Culture&Arts

Belgium denied by 'small margins' in France defeat, says Martinez

Belgium denied by 'small margins' in France defeat, says Martinez

A slick Belgium side boasting the talents of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku are the only team to have won all their matches in Russian Federation and are the top scorers, with 14 goals.

France now plays either Croatia or England in the the World Cup final on Sunday in Moscow.

Mbappe starred as France beat Belgium 1-0 in Wednesday's World Cup semi-final, booking a spot against either England or Croatia, creating a great chance for Olivier Giroud with a wonderful backheel pass.

The Barcelona man's 51st-minute winning header made him the third French defender to score at this tournament.

With the second youngest side at the World Cup, Les Bleus have shown no lack of confidence and this time they have another reason to be buyoed as Blaise Matuidi returns after sitting out on the suspension of his own.

Martinez brought on Dries Merteens for Moussa Dembele in an attempt to liven up his attack but France were now focused purely on frustrating Belgium's creative pair.

Henry will now be hoping he can help Belgium against his homeland, in what is the Red Devils' first World Cup semi-final in 32 years, with Tuesday's duel only their second ever showing in the last-four since that 2-0 defeat to eventual 1986 winners Argentina.

"It's essential to have a player like Kevin - that he can play different roles, " Martinez said Monday, on the eve of the semifinal.

France and Belgium meet in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday night to decide who will become the first finalists at the 2018 World Cup.




Belgium were pushing for a goal and France had to rely on a brilliant stop from Hugo Lloris after his Tottenham teammate Toby Alderweireld somehow got a shot off after a corner that was travelling into the top corner.

Six minutes of injury time provided Belgium with hope but France ran the clock down and nearly made it 2-0 as Griezmann and then Corentin Tolisso's shots were well saved by Courtois. "Apart from goalkeeper I could tell you that he could not just play, he could perform at the highest level in any position".

Lukaku missed the ball in the box on 88 minutes from a driven cross by De Bruyne.

"When he plays in that forward role, when he plays a bit more in the final third his play, his performance, is very, very attractive and maybe then it gets a bigger recognition, " Martinez said.

Didier Deschamps' side started the match on the backfoot with Belgium hitting them with wave after wave of attacks.

It's a shame that one team had to lose this one, so much talent was on display.

Deadly duo: Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann have scored six of France's nine goals between them.

"Two years ago, I remember what happened two years ago", Deschamps said. France were in the final of the Euros, but I don't want any of my players to be frustrated or disappointed.


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