Monday, July 15, 2024

France 1-0 Belgium: Vertonghen own goal sends Red Devils crashing out of Euro 2024

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Jul 2024

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France edged into the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 with a 1-0 victory over Belgium thanks to a late Jan Vertonghen own goal.

Les Bleus’ struggles in attack continued in another flat display, but that did not matter as they got the all-important goal in the 85th minute to send them through.

Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne both had chances for Belgium but failed to find a way past Mike Maignan, then Vertonghen diverted Randal Kolo Muani’s strike into his own net to send the Red Devils out.

France will meet either Portugal or Slovenia in the last eight, while Belgium go home after a poor showing in Germany.

Having struggled in attack through the group stage, both teams started slowly in Dusseldorf, with Antoine Griezmann’s tame effort into Koen Casteels’ gloves the only shot on target in the first half.

De Bruyne then caused a bit of panic in France’s box as his free-kick took a big deflection off the wall and needed blocking by Maignan.

Moments later, France suffered a blow as Adrien Rabiot was booked for a needless challenge on Jeremy Doku, his second yellow card of the tournament earning him a one-match suspension.

Marcus Thuram then went close as he flicked a header wide of the near post before Aurelien Tchouameni fired into the stands with the last action of the first half.

Didier Deschamps’ half-time message was clear as France upped the pressure – Casteels pushed away Tchouameni’s low strike before Kylian Mbappe whipped an effort just over the bar.

Belgium’s first shot on target came in the 69th minute as Orel Mangala picked out Lukaku, but his drilled attempt was pushed away by Maignan.

The goalkeeper remained alert as he then parried De Bruyne’s long-range shot, and just moments later, France finally took the lead.

Substitute Kolo Muani spun away from Vertonghen, but his shot was poor. That did not matter though, as it took a big deflection off the defender to take it flying past Casteels and into the back of the net.

Platini’s record still evades Mbappe

Mbappe finally scored his first goal at the European Championships last time out, clinically dispatching a spot-kick against Poland in France’s final group game.

It took his tally for Les Bleus at major tournaments to 13, and he is just one away from equalling Michel Platini, who leads with 14 such goals for his country.

The captain attempted five shots in this game, and is now up to 15 in the tournament overall, but it would not be him that grabbed the headlines.

For the second time this tournament, France benefitted from an own-goal winner as their wait for an open-play goal at Euro 2024 goes on.

Same old problems

Both France and Belgium had underwhelming group stages, and the Red Devils struggled to up the ante as they slumped to another disappointing tournament exit.

Only Serbia (3.8%) had a poorer shot conversion rate over the first three matches than Belgium (4.2%, two goals from 48 shots, level with France).

Belgium attempted just one shot in the first half, their joint-fewest in the first half of a game at the Euros on record (since 1980), along with one versus Denmark at Euro 2020.

It was also another frustrating day for Lukaku, who has failed to find the back of the net at this tournament, missing a host of chances across his four games.

The forward managed just one shot, and only two touches in the opposition box, as he struggled to make his mark.

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