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The Latest: Pogba dedicates France win to freed Thai players

Feb 12th 2020, 11:15 pm
Posted by eugenelesc
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MOSCOW (AP) - The Latest on Tuesday at the World Cup (all times local):

12:15 a.m.

Paul Pogba has paused after the biggest win of his international career to dedicate it to the Thai soccer team whose last members were freed from a flooded cave hours earlier.

France's Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi, right, celebrate at the end of the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The France midfielder took to Twitter shortly after France beat Belgium late Tuesday to advance to the World Cup final. He posted the boys' photos and said the victory "goes to the heroes of the day, well done boys, you are so strong."

The last of the 12 boys and their coach were freed earlier in the day from a cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks.

FIFA had invited the team to the World Cup final on Sunday but the governing body announced the boys wouldn't be able to attend since they are receiving medical treatment after their ordeal.

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11:15 p.m.

Paris has erupted in firecrackers, flares and shouts and tears of joy after France advanced to the World Cup final.

Red smoke rose up from flares fired by fans on the Right Bank esplanade outside City Hall, where crowds watched a broadcast of the 1-0 victory over Belgium on huge screens Tuesday night.

Fans poured onto streets around the city, from the chic Champs-Elysees to working-class neighborhoods on the edge of town. Firecrackers popped in quick succession, punctuated by car horns and football chants and "On est en finale!" or "we're in the final!"

Some streets were closed to car traffic to accommodate fans. Police vans lined the busiest areas in a city still on guard after extremist attacks.

France will face the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between England and Croatia in the World Cup decider in Moscow on Sunday. The French public, celebrities and politicians have rallied around the national team as it advanced.

Samuel Umititi scored the only goal in the semifinal with a header in the 51st minute at the St. Petersburg stadium in Russia.

Umititi says "We worked really hard together, and it's me that scored but we all delivered a big game."

His live TV interview was interrupted by teammate Antoine Griezmann, who saluted to the camera and said: "Vive la France! Vive la Republique!"

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10:55 p.m.

France has reached the World Cup final for the first time since 2006 with a 1-0 win over Belgium in a semifinal match that attracted presidents, royalty and a rock star.

Samuel Umtiti's header in the 51st minute was the only goal in a tense match at St. Petersburg.

France, the 1998 champions and runners-up in '06, will play either Croatia or England in Sunday's final at Moscow. England and Croatia will meet Wednesday in Moscow in the second semifinal.

France President Emmanuel Macron and King Philippe of Belgium shook hands in the VIP section before the match. Mick Jagger was also on the official list of guests.

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10:15 p.m.

What came first, the chicken or the goal?

Harry Kane, Dele Alli were among the England players who played a game of toss the rubber chicken at training, a day ahead of a World Cup semifinal against Croatia.

Why?

"That's exactly what I asked our fitness coaches around here," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "Our physical performance coaches try to keep refreshing the warmups of the players and keep them stimulated. Just a bit of fun to get them moving, and some of the mobility exercises."

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10:09 p.m.

Samuel Umtiti has headed France into a 1-0 lead against Belgium in the World Cup semifinals.

Umtiti rose brilliantly to head in Antoine Griezmann's corner from the right in the 51st minute, for his first goal of the tournament.

Striker Olivier Giroud won the corner after turning Belgian defender Vincent Kompany, tactical v5 watch forcing him to put his goal-bound shot out of play.

The winner in St.

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