World champions France recovered from two goals down to beat Belgium 3-2 in a thrilling Nations League semi-final on Thursday with a last minute strike from Theo Hernandez securing a place in Sunday’s showpiece match against Spain.
In a crazy end to the game Belgium thought they had won it minutes earlier but Romelu Lukaku’s late effort was ruled out for offside by VAR.
Yannick Carrasco fired Belgium ahead in the 37th minute and three minutes later Lukaku doubled the lead with a superbly taken goal.
Karim Benzema got France back into the game in the 62nd minute before Kylian Mbappe equalised with a penalty.
France were on top and searching for the winner but three minutes from the end of normal time Lukaku looked to have won the game for Belgium after connecting with a cross from Carrasco only for the effort to be annulled.
France midfielder Paul Pogba then hit the top of the post with a superb curling free-kick before Les Bleus grabbed victory with the 90th minute strike from Hernandez. Follow all the reaction from the game below.
Belgium vs France result: Five things we learned from Nations League semi-finals
Theo Hernandez scored a spectacular late winner as France came from two goals down to defeat Belgium and reach the Uefa Nations League final.
After Belgium dominated the first half and took a two-goal lead into the break, Karim Benzema pulled one back before Kylian Mbappe fired an unstoppable penalty high into the top right corner to exorcise his spot-kick demons following his vital miss against Switzerland at Euro 2020.
There was late drama as Romelu Lukaku had a winner ruled out for offside before Paul Pogba hit the bar from a free kick, but Hernandez was able to find the net after finishing off a France counter attack.
Belgium 2-3 France: Remarkable comeback from Les Blues sets up final against Spain, who defeated European champions Italy
A tale of two halves
The Nations League has properly delivered this week with two bombastic semi-finals.
Tonight’s match was a classic tale of two halves. Roberto Martinez made a slight tactical change in the first half bring Eden Hazard more central which resulted in two goals.
Didier Deschamps responded with tactical switch at the start of the second half, sending France further up the pitch and allowing Kylian Mbappe to float around the forward line. It paid off perfectly as Belgium had no answers to the high press.
France into Nations League final
After a superb second half performance against Belgium France head into the 2021 Nations League final to face Spain.
Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ miss out again and this one will hurt. They surrendered a two-goal lead and couldn’t get going again in the second 45 minutes. France pushed them back and earned each of their three goals.
Late drama saw a goal from Romulu Lukaku scratched off before Paul Pogba hit the crossbar and Theo Hernandez blasted France into the final!
The Nations League returns on Sunday.
Italy play Belgium at 2pm in the third place play-off before Spain and France go head-to-head for the trophy at 7:45pm
France complete comeback win over Belgium
Summary of that incredible second half:
Full-time: Belgium 2 - 3 France
90+7 mins: France have done it! Three second half goals see them come from behind to sink Belgium in Turin. What a game, what a comeback, what an advertisement for the Nations League!
Kylian Mbappe was the driving force behind the French response but it’s Theo Hernandez, with his first international goal, who will take the headlines. His 90th minute goal has sent Les Bleus into the final!
Belgium 2 - 3 France
90+1 mins: What a turnaround from France! They’ve got four added minutes to hold out and complete a sensational comeback win over Belgium. Can they do it?
GOAL! Belgium 2 - 3 France (T, Hernandez, 90’)⚽️
90 mins: WHAT IS HAPPENING? France are in front! Pavard swings a cross into the box from the right wing. There’s a deflection that sends the ball into the path of Theo Hernandez. He brings it down and drills a shot back across goal beating Courtois and sending France into the final!
NO GOAL! Belgium 2 - 2 France
88 mins: More drama! VAR chalk off the goal for offside. The replays show Lukaku just in front of Lucas Hernandez! The scores are level again.
GOAL! Belgium 3 - 2 France (Lukaku, 87’)⚽️
87 mins: Drama! Carrasco is played in behind Pavard on the left wing and whips a cross into the box. Lukaku meets it on the volley and guides it into the far corner. Is that the winner?
Belgium 2 - 2 France
86 mins: Close! Mbappe weaves and dribbles his way into the front of the box and sends a shot inches wide of the left hand post!
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