France labour to late win over Belgium to reach last eight


France left it late as they laboured to a 1-0 victory against Belgium to book their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2024.

With the game heading for extra-time, Randel Kolo Muani was France’s hero as his 85th minute strike deflected off defender Jan Vertonghen and past goalkeeper Koen Casteels to seal victory.

France controlled possession for much of the contest and went closest to breaking the deadlock either side of half-time through Marcus Thuram and Aurelien Tchouameni, while Kylian Mbappe also threatened with some dazzling footwork – but his finishing was off colour as France struggled to test Casteels.

Belgium could have won the game themselves late on with Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne both forcing good saves from goalkeeper Mike Maignan, before the scruffy decisive moment sent France through to the next stage.

Kevin De Bruyne
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Kevin De Bruyne’s late shot almost grabbed victory for Belgium

Didier Deschamps’ side will meet the winner of Monday evening’s match between Portugal and Slovenia in the quarter-finals in Hamburg on Friday (kick-off 8pm).

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I think France were the better team. Obviously, the quality wasn’t really there. It wasn’t a surprise that it was an own goal that settled the game. You also need a bit of luck. France kept a clean sheet and when you do that, you will always have a chance.

Sky Sports’ Roy Keane

Joy for France, despair for Belgium…

France have now won three successive games against Belgium.

Excluding penalty shoot-outs, Deschamps’ side have lost only one of their last 15 Euros matches (won eight and drawn six).

Can they go on to add to their 1984 and 2000 European Championship successes?

France
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France celebrate reaching the last eight

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and Belgium's Jeremy Doku react after the 1-0 a soccer game between France and Belgian national soccer team Red Devils, Monday 01 July 2024 in Dusseldorf, Germany, the Round of 16 game in the UEFA Euro 2024 European championships. BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY (Photo by BRUNO FAHY / BELGA MAG / Belga via AFP)
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Romelu Lukaku and Jeremy Doku react after Belgium’s 1-0 defeat to France

Neville: Vertonghen will be devastated by big mistake

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville speaking on ITV about France’s late winner and Vertonghen’s involvement:

“I think Vertonghen will be really disappointed [with the goal], and not just because it gets credited to him as an own goal.

“He has got to shift up. Kolo Muani doesn’t do anything amazing. He’s a little bit scruffy on the turn.

“But he’s got to shift up. Once you’re one or two yards off, that’s not unlucky, it falls into the category of poor defending and he knows that, he’s an experienced player.

“I’ve been there. I would class that from a defender with big experience as a big mistake. He’ll recognise that. He’ll be devastated because what he’ll also be thinking is ‘will it be the last time I’m here?’ That’s where it really hits home for players.

Deschamps: Saviour the moment

France boss Didier Deschamps:

“It’s beautiful, we played a big game, it was tight but we enjoyed possession and we had more opportunities. We have to savour it, it’s quite an achievement. We’re in the quarter-finals, they’re going home.

“We made a lot of progress and our opponents were obviously cautious, even if they’re an attacking team on paper. We did everything we could to create chances, and we created more than them, but we played the waiting game and didn’t fall into their trap. I liked that, but obviously you can’t win through possession alone.

“I’d like us to create more chances but we’re into the quarter-finals and that’s what counts. Let’s not play down that moment.”

De Bruyne: We did everything to try and win

Belgium captain Kevin De Bruyne:

“We did everything to try to win. We were five minutes from extra-time.

“We had chances, not so many. Then they score and there isn’t enough time to react.

“We were defending pretty well but then there’s a deflection. It’s a shame but that’s football… I had that chance towards the end but couldn’t score. The keeper did well. The team really did everything we could do.”

Stats: Story of the match

Who plays who in the quarter-finals?



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