Belgium vs France 2-3: Hernandez Snatches Late Goal to Send France Through to Final

Milan’s Theo Hernandez scored the winner in a 3-2 thriller in Turin, as world champions France defeated the no.1 ranked team in the world, Belgium, to advance to the final of the 2021 UEFA Nations League. 

It was an action-packed game at the Juventus Stadium as Belgium went in at half time with a two goal lead, looking very much like the stronger side. However, Didier Deschamps’ men fought back brilliantly in the second half before Theo Hernandez, scoring his first goal for France, stole the winner in the 90th minute. 

After seeing Euro 2020 winners Italy knocked out by Spain the night before, Belgium and France clashed in what was an entertaining match throughout.

Two Serie A stars started in the match here with Milan’s Theo Hernandez playing as a left wing-back and Adrien Rabiot occupying the center of midfield for Les Blues

Roberto Martinez’s side were by far the stronger team in the first half and Hugo Lloris was called into action early on, making a top class save from Kevin De Bruyne. Romelu Lukaku starred in a brilliant performance and was dangerous from the start, driving with the ball down the right in the build-up to De Bruyne’s effort. 

France controlled possession in the first 20 minutes but Belgium defended well, keeping a strong structure, as they looked to hit on the counter-attack. However, the Red Devils started to take control of the game later on in the first half and started to threaten the world champions. 

Yannick Carrasco broke the deadlock after 37 minutes for Belgium, cutting in well from the left onto his right foot, driving into the box and finishing into the bottom left corner. France gave Belgium too much space as De Bruyne played a simple pass into Carrasco in the lead up to the goal. 

Belgium doubled their lead just three minutes later thanks to a brilliant goal by Lukaku. The ex-Inter forward occupied the right half-space as De Bruyne played a good ball into him, in between the lines.

Lukaku then proceeded to dummy the ball, which completely sold Lucas Hernandez, and then used his pace to drive past the defender, powering the ball past Lloris with his weaker right foot. 

Belgium went in at the break in full control, one eye on the Nations League final against Spain. 

However, Deschamps must have given his players a good talking to at the interval as France came out a completely different side in the second half. 

Kylian Mbappe was lively all night for France, creating havoc for the Belgian defence, including putting in a great ball for Antoine Griezmann, who could not get a clean connection as the ball went past the post. 

Karim Benzema pulled a goal back however just after the hour mark, with Mbappe once again involved in the lead up to the equaliser. 

The PSG forward controlled the ball well as he drove into the box before playing a good ball into Benzema. The 33-year-old striker kept the ball under control in fine fashion, with some nice footwork, before he slotted the ball home into the bottom right corner. 

France had their tails up and their high intensity and confidence was evident as they went searching for an equaliser. VAR produced some drama during the match and France were awarded a penalty after Youri Tielemans was deemed to have brought down Griezmann in the area. 

Mbappe, who missed the final penalty against Switzerland in their Euro 2020 last 16 shootout, made no mistake this time, smashing the ball into the top right corner past Thibaut Courtois, bringing the scores level at 2-2. 

Belgium were quiet in the second half with Lloris having very little to do. However, Lukaku thought he had scored the winner with just a few minutes remaining, slotting home from close range following a cross by Carrasco. VAR intervened once again and chalked the goal off, much to the dismay of Lukaku. 

It was a highly entertaining end to the match, with the last 15 minutes producing some great opportunities, including a fine save by Lloris from a thrashing effort by De Bruyne, as well as Paul Pogba striking the bar from a free-kick. 

Nonetheless, we did find a winner as Milan’s Theo Hernandez sent France into ecstasy, thundering home a strike just inside the area. Mbappe linked well with Griezmann down the right before Benjamin Pavard came marauding down the right flank. The ball fell to Hernandez on the edge of the box before he rifled the ball across goal past a helpless Courtois. 

In a highly entertaining match throughout, France edged the victory over Belgium as their golden generation once again failed to perform and make it count on the bigger stage. 

The world champions overcame a poor first half to really demonstrate their quality to fight back and win 3-2, sending them into the final against Spain on Sunday. 



October 7, 2021 – Nations League 2021 Semi Finals

SCORERS: 37′ Carrasco (B), 40′ De Bruyne (B), 62′ Benzema (F), 69′ Mbappe (Pen) (F), 90′ T. Hernandez (F)

BELGIUM (3-4-3): Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Castagne (90+2′ Batshuayi), Witsel, Tielemans (70′ Vanaken), Carrasco; De Bruyne, Lukaku, Hazard (74′ Trossard) (Casteels, Mignolet, Boyata, De Ketelaere, Dendoncker, Foket, Theate, Saelemaekers, Lukebakio) Coach: Martinez
FRANCE (3-4-1-2): Lloris; Kounde, Varane, L. Hernandez; Pavard (90+2′ Dubois), Pogba, Rabiot (75′ Tchouameni), T. Hernandez; Griezmann; Mbappe, Benzema (90+7′ Veretout) (Costil, Maignan, Kimpembe, Upamecano, Digne, Guendouzi, Veretout, Martial, M. Diaby, Ben Yedder) Coach: Deschamps

REFEREE: Siebert (Germany) 
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Alderweireld (B); Added Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 4′