Resilient and stunning, the French football team signed a breathtaking last half hour to overcome a revengeful Belgium (3-2) and validate its qualification for the final of the League of Nations, thanks to the heroism of its youngster international Théo Hernandez.
Dominant for 60 minutes, Belgium has long believed to be able to soften the bitter memory of the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But the world number 1 selection sank against the world champions, once again, in a much more miraculous scenario than in St. Petersburg three years ago (1-0 for the Blues) … A revenge that risks to further establish the rivalry between these two neighboring nations.
Patience, revolt and madness
“Winning this match compared to the scenario, it proves once again the strength of character of this team”, reacted the French coach Didier Deschamps on TF1.
If you missed it – or if you just want to have a little fun again -: Theo Hernandez’s fantastic goal to give victory to the Blues against the Belgians, in a stunning semi-final 🔥
(Re) see the goal: https://t.co/EnVVIBF2AN
– Telefoot (@ telefoot_TF1) October 7, 2021
The Blues have built their success with patience, revolt and madness. Karim Benzema reduced the score (62e), Kylian Mbappé smiled again from the penalty spot (69e), and Théo Hernandez, for his second selection, illuminated Juventus stadium with a clear shot at the far post (90e), piercing a destitute Thibaut Courtois.
→ ANALYSIS. Football: French and Belgians in place for the 2018 revenge
Spain-France will therefore be the prestigious poster for the final of the second edition of the League of Nations, Sunday (8:45 p.m.) in Milan, with a second trophy within reach of Deschamps since taking office in 2012. He will not be able to not replace, nor erase, the missed Euro of the Blues, but it could allow to approach the path to the World Cup 2022 with hope.
Belgium and its golden generation of Hazard, Lukaku and De Bruyne, is experiencing a new disillusionment in its quest for an international title: the team led by Roberto Martinez postpones its dreams for a year, to Qatar.
The 20,000 tickets on sale had not all found a taker on Thursday evening, but the 12,400 fans who came to Juventus stadium will not forget this crazy meeting: the few hundred French supporters stayed for nearly half an hour to sing after the final whistle.
→ EXPLANATION. Football: Fifa consults to better impose its biennial World Cup
From the start of the match, a few boos rustled during hymns on both sides, and the total intensity of the first moments, marked by a high-class save signed by Hugo Lloris in front of Kevin De Bruyne (4e), showed that the two selections were not there to make up the figure.
Mbappé extinguished De Bruyne
The Mancunien was going to be the man of this first period: constantly found between the lines, ingenious in his passes, “KDB” has long eclipsed the 50e selection of Kylian Mbappé, a record in Blue at only 22 years old, with his two assists, for Yannick Carrasco (37e) and the impressive Romelu Lukaku (41e). The Chelsea striker even believed, at the very end of the match, to offer the victory to his people but he was signaled out of play (87e).
It was not until the hour of play, when the Belgians finally retreated, that Kylian Mbappé found the loophole. A decisive pass for Karim Benzema, scorer against his teammate Thibaut Courtois, then a penalty obtained by Antoine Griezmann and transformed with authority by the PSG striker, who had only scored once in Blue in the last eleven games.
Mbappé had offered the first goal to Benzema, Benzema offered the second to Mbappé by giving the ball of the penalty to his young partner.
This shock of neighbors was also a match between brothers: the brothers Lucas and Théo Hernandez, holders, wore the blue jersey together for the first time, unheard of since the Revellis, in 1974. The siblings will remember this first for a long time. association, and Theo now has an appointment at San Siro Sunday, the stadium of his daily life.