France’s route to the World Cup final
How Les Bleus reached the Moscow showpiece.
France will play Croatia in Sunday’s World Cup final in Moscow.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at how Les Bleus made it all the way to the Luzhniki Stadium showdown.
France 2 Australia 1 – Group C, Kazan, June 16
In Les Bleus’ opening match, the video assistant referee came into play for the first time at the World Cup as Antoine Griezmann put France ahead with a contentious second-half penalty. Referee Andres Cunha adjudged the Atletico Madrid forward had been fouled by Joshua Risdon after watching a replay of the incident at the side of the pitch. The aggrieved Socceroos quickly levelled through Mile Jedinak’s spot-kick, before Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba clinched victory with a late deflected effort which looped over the goalkeeper and in off the underside of the crossbar – confirmed by goal-line technology.
France 1 Peru 0 – Group C, Ekaterinburg, June 21
Kylian Mbappe fired unconvincing France into the World Cup knockout stages after a nervy 1-0 win over plucky Peru. The Paris St Germain forward scored his first goal with a close-range tap-in after 34 minutes, which proved enough to give Didier Deschamps’ side victory at the Central Stadium. It was not all smooth sailing, though, as Pedro Aquino hit the post for lively Peru, whose defeat meant the South Americans could no longer qualify.
Denmark 0 France 0 – Group C, Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium), June 26
In one of the less memorable games of Russia 2018 at the venue of the final, Denmark and France played out a goalless draw – a result which saw both sides progress, with Les Bleus top of the group. Deschamps rested the likes of Mbappe and Pogba while Andreas Cornelius ploughed a lone furrow up front for the Danes in a match which saw the first Mexican wave start after just 21 minutes.
France 4 Argentina 3 – Last 16, Kazan, June 30
Mbappe returned to the side with a bang in Kazan as France ended the hopes of Argentina and Lionel Messi with a breathtaking display. The 19-year-old striker scored twice in five minutes just past the hour mark as Deschamps’ men stormed back from behind to seal victory in a memorable seven-goal thriller. Griezmann had given France an early lead from the penalty spot before Angel Di Maria, who plays his club football in Paris, drilled in from 25 yards. Gabriel Mercado then poked Argentina into the lead before a stunning volley from defender Benjamin Pavard levelled things up and paved the way for Mbappe’s fine double, with Sergio Aguero’s stoppage-time effort proving little consolation.
Uruguay 0 France 2 – Quarter-finals, Nizhny Novgorod, July 6
After all the drama of Kazan, France produced a composed display to become the first side to book their place in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. The South Americans – without injured PSG forward Edinson Cavani, worked hard, but never really troubled the 1998 champions. 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.
France 1 Belgium 0 – Semi-finals, Saint Petersburg, July 10
Samuel Umtiti headed France into the World Cup final as Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ came up just short in Saint Petersburg. Mbappe once again impressed, but it was Barcelona central defender Umtiti who produced the decisive moment when he nodded home a corner from Griezmann after 51 minutes, with the help of a touch off Marouane Fellaini. The Belgians, who had knocked Brazil out in the quarter-finals, were left to reflect on what might have been after all the collective talents of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and company failed to find another stellar performance.