World Cup 2018 action continued, in Russia, July 10, 2018, with France defeating Belgium 1-0 and advancing to the finals. Now they will await the winner of England v. Croatia. The teams battled to a 0-0 tie, at the end of the first half, with Belgium having a golden chance in the 20th minute, but Kevin De Bruyne’s chip shot was saved brilliantly by French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. France nearly scored in the first minute when Kylian Mbappé beat his man badly and almost connected on a centering pass to Antoine Griezmann in stride, but the quick action did not result in a score.

Belgium would control the ball 60 percent to 40 percent although France would lead in shots 11 to three after 45 minutes of action. France would break through in the 51st minute when Samuel Umtiti headed home Antoine Griezmann’s corner kick to give France a 1-0 lead. Belgium would threaten twice during six minutes of stoppage time and needed a brilliant save from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to keep the score 1-0 but were unable to find an equalizer.

France’s path to the semi-finals

France won Group C, comfortably, perhaps even quietly, with a 2-0-1 record and plus-two goal differential. Group C included Australia, Peru (making their first appearance in the World Cup since 1982), and second place finisher Denmark.

Many agreed it was perhaps the weakest group in this year’s competition. France, in the Knockout stage, ousted Lionel Messi and Argentina, who looked far from top form in the Group Stage, 4-3 behind two Kylian Mbappé goals in the 64th and 68th minute. The quarterfinals saw France defeat Uruguay 2-0 on goals by Raphaél Varane and Antoine Griezmann.

The two wins over the South American heavyweights, setting up all UEFA semi-finals, cemented the Europeans as the dominant footballers in the world. The finals will take place Sunday, July 15, 2018, at 11 AM EST.

Belgium’s path to the semifinal

Belgium went undefeated in Group G with a ridiculous plus-seven goal differential and nine points in the standings.

Belgium scored nine goals in the process, including four by phenom Romelu Lukaku, who stands in second place for the Golden Boot Standings. Belgium faced Japan in the Round of 16 and fell behind the heavy underdog 2-0 early in the second half, before netting the game-winner, dramatically, in the 94th minute. Belgium battling back from down two goals gave them momentum in their quarterfinal match-up against Brazil. Belgium defeated the five-time champions 2-1, aided by an own goal and a Kevin De Bruyne goal in the 31st minute, and cemented UEFA as the dominant conference for World Cup competition. The third-place game will take place Saturday, July 14, 2018, at 11 AM EST.