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Samuel Umtiti became an instant hero on Tuesday as the France centre-back scored the only goal in the World Cup semi-final to lead his side to victory against Belgium.
The defender rose highest to power home a second-half header from an Antoine Griezmann corner to take France into their first World Cup final since 2006.
Here’s a closer look at Umtiti’s performance.
This was a battling performance from Umtiti, who hasn’t quite lived up to his reputation at the World Cup. The lapses that have plagued his game weren’t completely eliminated, but he found the perfect moment to leave his mark on the tournament, scoring the eventual winner in a tense game to lead his side into the final. That’s what everyone will remember.
Aerial strength – Umtiti did well to create a yard of space for himself for his goal, but what really stood out was the way he out-muscled Marouane Fellaini. That’s no mean feat.
Withstanding late pressure – As Belgium laid siege to the France goal, searching for a late equaliser, Umtiti stood firm. He was always in the right position to clear the danger and preserve his side’s lead.
Umtiti’s defending was again a little suspect, as it has been throughout this tournament. He nearly gifted Belgium a golden chance when he misread a cross completely, ultimately getting a fortunate nick on the ball to divert it behind Romelu Lukaku when he should have been clearing it with ease. Moments like that have far too frequent from the Barcelona man.
After centre-back partner Raphael Varane’s goal in the quarter-final, it was time for Umtiti to show up to the party. He’s had a shaky time at the back this summer – with a few more moments along those lines on Tuesday – but scoring the goal that puts his side into the World Cup final makes up for everything.
RATING – 8/10
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