Eden Hazard: 'I prefer to lose with Belgium than win with France'

France Belgium graphic

Eden Hazard: 'I prefer to lose with Belgium than win with France'

France manager Didier Deschamps says it is time to write a "new, handsome page" as they reached their third final in six World Cups.

France's fans sang in the stands long past the end of the match, surrounded by yellow-clad security.

They certainly hope to keep the party going on Sunday in the final in Moscow.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!"

A Belgium team featuring numerous same stars lost 1-0 to Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinal four years ago and then was shocked 3-1 by Wales in the European Championship quarterfinals two years ago. France in the last two years have now fully evolved from a sometimes-ragged collection of individuals to a team approaching each match with a sense of total unity.

The last time a Belgium team got this far at the World Cup, it lost 2-0 to Argentina at the 1986 tournament in Mexico.

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Once the second half got underway, there wasn't long to wait for the deadlock to be broken and, considering the amount of set-piece goals scored at Russian Federation 2018, it should not have been a surprise that the opener came from a corner.

Umtiti headed France into the lead five minutes after the break, rising above Fellaini to head in Griezmann's corner for what would prove the match-winner. "We play better football, in a style that suits me". Griezmann set up both goals, the first from a free kick and the latest off a corner.

"All players need to be mentioned but it's true that Pogba was nearly everywhere, not only in attack but he was also efficient in defence", Deschamps told the media (via Goal). Goals in each half from Raphael Varane and Griezmann - his third of the tournament, with more than a helping hand from Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera - saw Les Bleus through. The strategy for Belgium was, to go wide and send lots of crosses especially from Mertens.

For many observers, this generation of talented players including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and others had a real chance to come home victorious.

Imagine how much better, how much more polished France's young diamond will be at age 21, at the 2020 European Championship, or at age 23, at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and on and on. His first touch was after 10 seconds and, after receiving the ball on the right wing, he sped past Jan Vertonghen and then Mousa Dembele in a thrilling run.

Deschamps was captain when France won its first World Cup in 1998, a victory which sparked an outpouring of national pride and jubilation still vivid for millions.

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Russian players were seen using smelling salts and German newspaper Bild released a video showing the same.

France managed to keep Belgium quiet.

Murkomen later posted a photo donning a France jersey and it was clear he had finally made a choice.

There will be no first World Cup final for the Red Devils, and instead they must now try to lift themselves for the third-place play-off, back in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, against the loser of Wednesday's semi-final between England and Croatia.

Along with the French and Gabonese presidents and the king and queen of Belgium, there was rock "n" roll royalty watching the game. "There weren't many big moments".

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