France Beat Belgium With Late Own Goal

An 85th-minute deflected shot by Randal Kolo Muani, listed as a Jan Vertonghen own goal, gave France a nervy 1-0 win over a disappointing Belgium on Monday and sent them into the quarter-finals despite another poor show by their misfiring forwards.

France made most of the running in a cagey game but were reckless with their finishing, until a nice combination of passes, finished off by N’Golo Kante, finally created space for substitute Kolo Muani to turn and bundle a mishit shot in off the leg of Vertonghen and leave goalkeeper Koen Casteels wrong-footed.

France will now meet the winner of Monday’s match Portugal in the quarter-finals in Hamburg on Friday.

It was a fittingly scruffy decider for an underwhelming game and means that France still have yet to score in open play at the tournament, recording two own goals and a Kylian Mbappe penalty across their four games.

Various combinations have been tried up front, while midfielders and defenders also caught the bug on Monday with some wild attempts, but coach Didier Deschamps, unsurprisingly, preferred to focus on the positives.

Belgium clearly had a plan to take any speed out of the game, playing at less than walking pace at times, with Kevin de Bruyne often operating just in front of his back four.

The only decent chance of the first half came for France after 34 minutes when Jules Kounde whipped in a curling cross that recalled striker Marcus Thuram headed wide.

Aurelien Tchouameni forced Koen Casteels into his first save of the day soon after the break, while ever-lively Mbappe miskicked a decent chance as France began to put some passes together.

A rare Belgian thrust was cut short by a brilliant Theo Hernandez tackle just as Yannick Carrasco was about to pull the trigger and Romelu Lukaku and De Bruyne then brought good saves from Mike Maignan.

France were in the ascendancy but the poor finishing that has dogged their campaign continued with William Saliba and Mbappe both blazing wildly over before Kolo Muani’s decisive intervention.

It was a meeting between officially the second (France) and third (Belgium) best teams in the world, but after both edged into the knockout stage managing only two goals apiece from their three games, both looked extremely cautious in attack for most of it.

For Belgium, another dispiritingly tame exit adds to their appalling record in the European championship since losing in the final in


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