SAMUEL UMTITI fired France into the final to leave Didier Deschamps dreaming of a 1998 repeat.
The Barcelona defender’s second-half header was enough to settle this St Petersburg semi-final against neighbours Belgium, who had Les Bleus legend Thierry Henry in their dugout.
And it means France boss Deschamps is now one win away from emulating his glory night 20 years ago, when he lifted the World Cup as captain in Paris.
Les Bleus will now play England or Croatia in Sunday’s showdown in Moscow – their first final since 2006.
Should England be their opponents, Gareth Southgate’s side will somehow have to handle Kylian Mbappe.
Because the teenage winger was sensational again in St Petersburg and looks determined to make this World Cup his own.
For Belgium, this loss will hit them hard as they have still never made a World Cup final.
Defeat was not deserved for Belgium’s captain Eden Hazard, who was at the heart of everything and was constantly fouled by the French as they tried to thwart him late on.
The Chelsea ace had the first effort of the match, shooting wide from the left after a clever ball from Kevin De Bruyne.
Then the Belgium skipper came even closer with a powerful drive, which Raphael Varane did well to deflect over with his head.
France keeper Hugo Lloris, who starred against Uruguay in the last round, was then called into action, terrifically tipping wide Toby Alderweireld’s shot on the swivel.
Les Bleus, though, started to mount some pressure of their own, with Antoine Griezmann firing over from 20 yards.
Then Olivier Giroud, who is yet to score in Russia, knocked wide after lovely link-up from Griezmann and Mbappe.
And Benjamin Pavard had France’s chance of the half when Mbappe played him in on goal, but Thibaut Courtois saved with his legs from close range.
After the break, Romelu Lukaku missed a huge opportunity when he headed over from Axel Witsel’s cross – and Belgium were made to pay in the 51st minute.
A sharp turn and shot from Giroud was deflected wide for a French corner.
And from Griezmann’s inswinger, Umtiti got ahead of Marouane Fellaini to nod past the helpless Courtois at his near post.
Les Bleus immediately went in search of a second, with the incredible Mbappe showing sublime skill to back-heel in Giroud, whose effort was blocked again.
Desperate Belgium tried to battle back with substitute Dries Mertens teeing up Fellaini, who headed wide.
Witsel then had a 20-yard drive saved by Lloris but despite late pressure, the French held on.
Credit: The Sun