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Pogba dedicates France win to freed Thai players

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Moscow: 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.

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.

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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