Furious Hazard hits out at France’s ‘anti-football’ tactics

Belgium’s forward Eden Hazard greets the fans after the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between France and Belgium at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 10, 2018.<br />France reached the World Cup final on Tuesday after a second-half header from Samuel Umtiti gave them a 1-0 win against Belgium. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS

Belgium Captain, Eden Hazard, on Tuesday accused France of adopting anti-football tactics in the Les Blues 1-0 victory over his team at the St. Petersburg Stadium.

Barcelona defender, Samuel Umtiti, headed in the winning goal for France in the second half of the game dominated by Belgium to earn the 1998 world champions another final berth.

Sunday’s final against either England or Croatia would be France’s second in 12 years and their third in their history.

The won the trophy in 1998 and lost to Italy via a penalty shoot in Germany 2006 edition of the competition.

On Tuesday, the Didier Deschamps-led side beat Belgium to qualify for another final.

But Belgian captain, Hazard is still pained by the manner of France’s victory, which game was based on an unyielding defence marshalled by Umtiti, Real Madrid’s Rafael Varane, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez.

The defence was screened by Ngolo Kante and Blaise Matuidi.

They defended well and proved too harmful to the Belgians with their counter-attacking system. That was the basis of Hazard’s anger.

“I prefer to lose with this Belgium than win with that France. I wouldn’t say the team in front of us was better than us.

“The team in front of us has defended well with 11 players 35 meters before their goal. And they’ve done this the whole tournament.

Against Uruguay they score with a free kick. Today a goal from a corner. Pity, but that’s football.”

While compatriots agreed that France approach was not the best advertisement for the World Cup, Kevin de Bruyne and Coach Roberto Martinez congratulated the French for their victory.

“I play in England and usually come up against teams that defend 90 per cent of the time. That is football. What they do, they do well.

Both teams have had opportunities. That one goal makes the difference. I am not annoyed with them,” he said.

Coach Martinez congratulated France for their victory, while praising his wards for putting up a gallant fight.

He said: “I think today (Tuesday) is a game that was very tight and there were not many big moments that were going to decide the game.

I thought we were growing into the game when we conceded the goal from the corner.

The difference between defeat and winning was down to one dead ball situation.

“That first goal was going to be vital. If we’d scored, France would have opened up, but we didn’t, and it came down to a corner kick.”

The coach, who has been credited for bringing out the best in this young Belgian side, rued that his players were not composed when it mattered most, especially when they controlled the game.

“That little bit of composure in the final third that we usually have deserted us.

We got into good situations, but not scoring the first goal meant it was difficult.

“We couldn’t find that magic in front of goal.”

He revealed that his team wanted to win the tournament and worked towards that goal, adding, however, that they need to regroup now and fight to go home with the third-place trophy.