• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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France defeat Belgium to advance to quarter-finals of Euro 2024

France-euro-2024

France advanced to the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 after a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Belgium at the Merkur Spiel-Arena on Monday.

Jan Vertonghen’s late own goal took France into the last 8 as they edged Belgium in a tense tie in Düsseldorf. With the game heading for extra-time, Randal Kolo Muani was France’s hero as his 85th-minute strike deflected off defender Jan Vertonghen and past goalkeeper Koen Casteels to seal the victory.

Didier Deschamps’ side will play Portugal or Slovenia in the quarterfinals on Friday.
France had dominated the last-16 clash, but their finishing looked set to force extra time until they finally found a way through with five minutes left.

Substitute Randal Kolo Muani collected the ball inside the Belgian penalty area and hit a shot that was going wide until a deflection off the unfortunate Vertonghen took it past goalkeeper Koen Casteels. The lucky break sent the 2022 World Cup runners-up into a last-eight tie in Hamburg on Friday as they remain on course to become European champions for the third time.

France are yet to score from open play in four matches in the tournament, Kylian Mbappe netted once from a penalty against Poland, while their other two goals came from opposition defenders. Crucially, however, they are rock solid in defence, having conceded only one goal, from a penalty, so far.

Their back line was outstanding against Romelu Lukaku and his fellow attackers, and Belgium bowed out after what will go down as a disappointing tournament for them.

Both sides were looking for revenge, in Belgium’s case for their 1-0 defeat against France in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, a result that still hurts six years on.

France, meanwhile, had a point to prove at the Euros after going out in the last 16 three years ago on penalties to Switzerland, a deeply disappointing result in between runs to consecutive World Cup finals.