‘We’re not over it’: France seek ultimate redemption
FRANCE coach Didier Deschamps urged his side to seize their chance of redemption in the World Cup final after admitting he has still not got over the pain of defeat in the Euro 2016 final.
Samuel Umtiti headed the only goal in a 1-0 semi-final win over Belgium in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday (AEST), consigning the Red Devils 'golden generation' to another bitter defeat.
France's own supremely talented young squad will now aim to make amends for defeat on home soil to Portugal two years ago in Sunday's showpiece against England or Croatia.
"Finals have to be won because we have still not got over the one we lost two years ago," said Deschamps.
"It is something exceptional. I am very happy for my players. They are young but they have character, a (winning) mentality."
In a World Cup replete with set-piece goals, a corner again proved decisive when Umtiti timed his run perfectly to meet Antoine Griezmann's delivery six minutes into the second half.
"The difference sadly is a set play in a very close and tight game," lamented Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.
"If you are going to have to lose such a match, which is bearable, it is the manner in which our players lost, pushing for everything, trying everything until the final whistle."
Apart from being the match winner, Umtiti's partnership with Raphael Varane in central defence continues to flourish, and when called upon, captain
made important saves at key moments.
At the other end of the field, teenager Kylian Mbappe was France's biggest threat, but it was another off night for Olivier Giroud as the focal point of Deschamps's attack.
Giroud has not scored in eight games and is yet to even have a shot on target in Russia.
"I'm not missing too much," insisted Giroud.
"I would have liked to help the team, make the breakthrough tonight.
"That was not the case but, once again, I am confident in my chances to score in the final and help bring back the World Cup. I really hope to do it in the final."