ST.PETERSBURG, July 10. /TASS/. The French national football team defeated Belgium 1-0 in the semifinal match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, played on Tuesday night in Russia’s Saint Petersburg, to become the first team to vie for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy this year.
Coaches of both teams seemed to place their bets on the offensive strategy for this semifinal match as the opening quarter of the first half saw a mutual shower of attacks of the French and Belgian sides against each other.
It was on the 22nd minute, when Belgium’s defender Toby Alderweireld cannoned a powerful shot into the upper corner of the French net, but it was saved by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as he made a last-second dive and tipped off the ball with his upper hand sending it out wide.
The teams settled down a bit later testing each other on the offensives and the first half of the semifinal match ended with a scoreless draw, but the statistics pointed to Belgium’s dominance in the opening 45 minutes, registering a ball possession advantage of 58% against 42% on behalf of the French squad.
The match at the over 68,000-seat capacity Saint Petersburg Arena saw tonight an attendance of some 64,286, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino, French President Emmanuel Macron as well as King Philippe of Belgium with his spouse Queen Mathilde.
The list of football fans being present in Saint Petersburg for the match between France and Belgium saw a host of celebrities including legendary rock star Mick Jagger from 'Rolling Stones' and Hollywood film star Pamela Anderson.
The score was opened five minutes later after the teams'15-minute mid-time break with a thunderous shot on the speed from a corner kick of French defender Samuel Umtiti.
The second half also saw yellow cards flashed for two players of the Belgian team, namely for forward Eden Hazard (for hauling down French midfielder Paul Pogba) and Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld.
With 15 minutes remaining in the regular time, the Belgian squad took control of the game on the offensive play registering the figure of 61% regarding the ball possession, but the French defense was solid guard on the guard fending off all Belgian attacks.
The final whistle in the match signaled the 1-0 win of France over Belgium.
In another semifinal match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Croatian football squad is set to take on Team England on Wednesday, July 11, at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The match is scheduled to start also at 9:00 p.m. local time (18:00 GMT).
Russia is staging its first-ever FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a remarkable opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The national football team of hosts Russia managed to make it to the quarterfinals stage of this world championship, where Croatia edged them out in a 4-2 penalty shootout on July 7 at the Fisht Arena in Sochi.