Samuel Umtiti was the hero for France as his second-half header secured a 1-0 victory over Belgium and a place in Sunday’s World Cup final in Moscow.
Umtiti’s 51st minute effort proved to be the difference between the two sides on a night when both defences were eager not to give too much away.
Read on as we look at the main talking points from Day 27 at the World Cup.
It wasn’t pretty at times, but France just about deserved their victory over Belgium.
The result sets up a meeting with either England or Croatia in Sunday’s final and manager Didier Deschamps is hoping his side can banish the memories of their defeat against Portugal in the European Championship final in 2016.
“This is exceptional – I am very happy for my players, we showed character and the right mentality,” said Deschamps.
“Two years ago, I remember what happened two years ago. We will go into this final to win it, as we have still not gotten over the (2016) final.
“I feel very proud for my group. We have been 49 days together. There were a lot of things, a lot of difficult things. Everyone can take credit.”
Belgium run out of ideas
Belgium have received plenty of plaudits during the World Cup, but their star players came up short in St Petersburg.
The likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne were unable to break down their opponents, while striker Romelu Lukaku went missing on a night when his country needed him most.
Despite the defeat, manager Roberto Martinez refused to criticise his players.
“It was a dead ball situation which was the difference,” he said. “It was a close game and it was very tight and it was going to be decided by that bit of luck in front of goal.
“The attitude of the players was brilliant and we couldn’t ask for any more. We have to understand one team wins and the other loses, and we did what we could.”
“We have one game left and I want to ensure we finish the tournament on a high because these players don’t deserve to leave here with a bad taste.”
England expects (again)
World Cup fever has gripped England following their unexpected run to a semi-final meeting with Croatia on Wednesday.
Many fans believe that the Three Lions can win the tournament for the first time since 1966 and manager Gareth Southgate is pleased with the way his team is unifying the country.
“We are really proud of the support we have received – we have had the chance to make a difference,” he said.
“Our supporters and our country has had a long time suffering in terms of football. They have real enthusiasm for these players, not only for the way they have played but also for the way they have conducted themselves.
“They are proud to wear the shirt. Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of unity, but sport has the power to unite – and football in particular has the power to do that.
“You can feel the encouragement and support. It is a special feeling and a privilege.”
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