TURIN, Italy: Romelu Lukaku ended a five -match goalless drought, Kylian Mbappe made up for the disappointment of Euro 2020 and Karim Benzema maintained his excellent pace.
The three strikers excelled in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League in Turin but the victory was ultimately in France’s favor as a result of Theo Hernandez’s decisive goal.
The AC Milan winger blasted home a goal in the 90th minute to complete the world champions’ rise and booked a ticket to the final against Spain at the San Siro on Sunday.
It was the perfect night for Hernandez who just celebrated his 24th birthday, scoring his first international goal when paired for the first time with his brother Lucas.
“The comeback is amazing. Not many believe we can do it against one of the best teams in the world but the quality and dignity in this French team is very high,” said French manager Didier Deschamps.
Belgium lined up a generation of talented players once again failed to translate their strength into the championship. Roberto Martinez’s side took a 2-0 lead after the first half, thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Lukaku.
“In the first half we played calmly. But we became emotional, maybe already started thinking about the final. This generation is desperate to hunt for trophies for the country.
“You can’t say we lacked quality but we allowed France to bounce back and it was very disappointing. You can feel the pain of the goal in the 90th minute and the result that wasn’t in our favor – the VAR was very hard – but it was avoidable,” Martinez said.
The French began to bounce back when their attacking trio came to the fore after the break. Benzema closed the gap in the 62nd minute for his 11th goal of the season.
Then Antoine Griezmann was ruled out by the VAR being roughed up by Youri Tielemans and Mbappe completed a penalty kick for the equalizer – three months after he failed to do so in the penalty shootout against Switzerland at Euro 2020.
Mbappe, 22, playing for his 50th time for his country, shot confidently past Thibaut Courtois before Hernandez blasted home the winning goal late in the game.
Before that Lukaku managed to find the target for the second time but VAR canceled his goal due to offside.