Home Football France’s Late Goal Sends Belgium Out and Secures Euro 2024 Quarter-Finals Spot

France’s Late Goal Sends Belgium Out and Secures Euro 2024 Quarter-Finals Spot

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Introduction

France secured their place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals with a dramatic 1-0 victory over Belgium in Duesseldorf. A late own goal by Jan Vertonghen proved decisive in a tense last-16 encounter. Despite dominating the match, France struggled to convert their chances, but they found a breakthrough with just five minutes remaining. The victory keeps France on course to become European champions for the third time.

Dominance Without Finishing

Throughout the match, France dominated possession and created several opportunities. However, their finishing let them down repeatedly. With the game seemingly heading for extra time, substitute Randal Kolo Muani made a decisive play. His shot, which was initially going wide, deflected off Vertonghen and wrong-footed Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels, resulting in the only goal of the match.

Defensive Solidity

France’s defense has been rock solid in the tournament, conceding only one goal, which came from a penalty. This defensive strength was on full display against Belgium’s attackers, including Romelu Lukaku. France has yet to score from open play in Euro 2024, with their three goals coming from a penalty and two own goals by opponents.

Historical Context and Revenge

Both teams had extra motivation going into this match. Belgium sought revenge for their 1-0 defeat against France in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. Meanwhile, France aimed to redeem themselves after their early exit in the last Euros, where they lost to Switzerland in the last 16 on penalties.

Tactical Adjustments

France’s coach Didier Deschamps made tactical adjustments by bringing back Antoine Griezmann and Marcus Thuram into the starting lineup, replacing Ousmane Dembele and Bradley Barcola. On the other hand, Belgium’s coach Domenico Tedesco opted for a more attacking lineup, with Yannick Carrasco and Lois Openda supporting Lukaku, while Kevin De Bruyne played a deeper role.

First Half: Missed Chances

The first half saw France holding most of the possession but failing to capitalize on their chances. Marcus Thuram headed just wide from Jules Kounde’s cross, and Aurelien Tchouameni had a couple of off-target shots. Despite their dominance, France looked imprecise and flat at times, with Griezmann struggling to make an impact from the right wing.

Second Half: Increasing Pressure

France intensified their efforts in the second half. Tchouameni’s deflected long-range strike tested Casteels, and Kylian Mbappe’s powerful shot just missed the target. Belgium, content to sit back and counter, nearly scored when Theo Hernandez made a crucial block to deny Carrasco after De Bruyne set him up.

Key Saves and Decisive Moment

French goalkeeper Mike Maignan made important saves late in the game, first denying Lukaku and then De Bruyne. With the match hanging in the balance, it was clear that a single goal would be enough to decide the outcome. In the 85th minute, N’Golo Kante found Kolo Muani in the box, and his shot, deflecting off Vertonghen, sealed France’s victory.

France’s narrow win over Belgium in the Euro 2024 last-16 match demonstrated their resilience and defensive prowess. Despite their struggles in front of goal, they managed to secure a place in the quarter-finals, where they will face their next challenge in Hamburg. This victory not only showcased their tactical flexibility but also highlighted their determination to reclaim the European championship title. As they prepare for the upcoming match, France will need to address their finishing issues while maintaining their defensive solidity.