Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will contest the World Cup final on Sunday - potentially against four Reds team-mates in the England squad - after France secured a 1-0 win over Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku’s Belgium in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Pogba started the match once again as part of France’s highly effective midfield trio that also consisted of N'Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi. That hard-working triumvirate was especially impressive after the opening goal, with Paul showing his strength on more than one occasion.
Lukaku went into the match with four tournament goals to his name and a mesmerising performance against Brazil in the previous round, yet the powerhouse striker saw little of the ball and was helpless when a Kevin De Bruyne cross flew agonisingly past him on 88 minutes.
France probably should have doubled their advantage in added time when Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso was played in on goal, but his effort was well saved by the solid Chelsea stopper Courtois.
Fellaini and Lukaku will now prepare for the competition’s third-place play-off on Saturday, while Pogba is looking forward to what is clearly the biggest match of his career: the World Cup final.
France v Belgium: Friends & foes Gallery
The best images from the World Cup semi-final featuring Pogba, Fellaini and Lukaku.
Rio Ferdinand speaking on the BBC…
“Set pieces have decided many games in this tournament and the importance was shown again today. Kylian Mbappe was great, but Pogba showed today why he went for so much money. His discipline, which he has been called out for before, seems to have come into play, there is an understanding about his game and a maturity. It was not just today, but throughout this tournament. He has grown and grown and grown. He emerged out of this game as the top midfielder on the pitch.”
PRAISE FOR POGBA ON TWITTER
Paul Pogba casually dropped a world class performace in a World Cup semi-final and bossed 65% of the pitch.— Man Utd Channel (@ManUtdChannel) July 10, 2018
My midfielder ❤️ pic.twitter.com/48XewpCO7r
Pogba was so disciplined tonight. Performance slightly similar to Euro 2016 semi-final vs Germany but much more commanding. Bought into what Deschamps wanted from him. #mufc— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) July 10, 2018
Great that @rioferdy5 just paid tribute to Pogba (who was barely mentioned in the commentary) because he was immense— Simon Austin (@sport_simon) July 10, 2018
I can't get enough of Paul Pogba in this World Cup. Immense in both offensive and defensive phases, positionally excellent, intelligent use of the ball, and a killer mentality— O O (@otoiks) July 10, 2018
Paul Pogba has shown a real maturity and discipline to his game this World Cup. People will doubt him but he continues to do his talking on the pitch. A World Cup finalist. My midfielder. 🇫🇷 #mufc pic.twitter.com/CKqQgZS9JN— United Xtra (@utdxtra) July 10, 2018