Umtiti wins the World Cup semi-final that Lukaku bottled

France 1 Belgium 0

Les Bleus respected Belgium and set up to contain them while Mbappe flickered promisingly in the other half.

We knew that Didier Deschamps is a 1-0 kind of manager who has created a 1-0 type of team that waits very professionally and strategically, knows how to keeps a clean sheet, and expects to score from a mistake, from a corner or a free-kick.

The goal came early in the second half and Griezmann, a very exact footballer, supplied the assist. He provides precise crosses, precise shots and passes, precise set-piece delivery. His left-footed inswinging corner to the near post was pinpoint and Umtiti evaded Fellaini and glanced home an unstoppable header from close range.

France 1 Belgium in 51 minutes.

End of contest? Probably.

The French knew they could defend that goal and win their semi-final and the game that unfolded after the goal that wasn’t hugely different from the game before the goal and centre forward Romelu Lukaku was just a lump for 96 minutes.

How static and clueless was Lukaku last night? He was hiding. Why didn’t Roberto Martinez take him off and push Fellaini up top? Because he didn’t have the bottle to do that.

The best Belgians played well, especially the Chelsea boys, Hazard and Courtois.

Surprise starter Chadli did OK at times but wasn’t really at the required level, and neither was Mousa Dembele.

There was an amazing decision late on by the ref when Hazard was fouled in a scoring position just outside the box. Instead of giving Belgium a free-kick, he allowed play to carry on.

So there you have it.

Raphael Varane has the class that a World Cup-winning team needs at centreback and N’Golo Kante is the second best  footballer in the tournament after Kevin De Bruyne.

Clearly, Kylian Mbappe is the most special teenage footballer in the world right now. He’s better than Thierry Henry at the same age because has bottle and is willing to take a kick or three. But Mbappe’s not as good at 19 as Pele was at 17, Maybe nobody ever will be.

Looks like France might win this World Cup Final 1-0 and make up for losing Euro 2016 to Portugal in Paris. Deschamps said it himself the night before this semi-final: “We still haven’t got over the one we lost two years ago.”

 

After Ronaldo went off, Portugal played better and Eder scored