Paris streets erupt in celebration as France makes World Cup final


French football fans took to the streets of Paris to celebrate their national team reaching the World Cup final with a 1-0 win over Belgium.

France booked their spot in their first World Cup final since 2006 in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday - and 2,000km away the atmosphere in Paris was electric.

The final whistle sparked wild celebrations in the French capital, reminiscent of the famous night in 1998 when Zinedine Zidane led France to World Cup glory.

The Champs-Elysees was flooded with the Tricolour flag and chants of "we're in the final" as a cacophony of car horns and flares echoed throughout Paris.

"I'm totally blown away, this is crazy," 41-year-old Gilles Rove of Paris' Belleville neighbourhood said.

"Nobody believed this could happen at the beginning of the World Cup, but this team has really shown something in recent weeks.

"This team gives me goosebumps, even more so than the team of 1998," he added, in reference to the last time France won the World Cup, on home soil against Brazil 20 years ago.

"We're going to the final, we're going to the final," scores chanted in one central Paris bar before breaking out into an impromptu rendition of the La Marseillaise national anthem.

The partying was marred by clashes between riot police and mobs on the iconic Champs Elysees avenue. Live TV images showed bare-chested men hurling plastic crowd-control barriers and other missiles at the armed officers, who charged back.

In the southern city of Nice, more than two dozen fans were hurt when the detonation of firecrackers triggered a brief stampede near the seafront.

Hundreds of thousands of fans had poured on to the Champs Elysees and around the Arc de Triomphe as bars, cafes and restaurants enjoyed a bumper evening of revelry after the World Cup equivalent of a local derby between the neighbouring rivals.

France was able to overcome Belgium in the semi-final after defender Samuel Umtiti's header secured a 1-0 victory.

France will face the winner of England or Croatia in the final following the second semi-final.

- With Reuters

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