France has hit back from 2-0 to stun Belgium and reach the Nations League final as Theo Hernandez scored a thrilling 90th-minute winner for the World Cup winners. 

Belgium first-half two goals in the space of two minutes had made Didier Deschamps’ side out of contention but a thrilling second-half fightback set up a meeting with Spain in the Final at Juventus. 

AC Milan full-back Hernandez was the match-winner, collecting the ball on the edge of the box and firing home a finish into the far corner to spark joyous scenes at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

The semi-final started well for Belgium as they took a 37th-minute lead when Yannick Carrasco cut in from the left and drilled in a finish at the near post, wrongfooting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and after four minutes Roberto Martine side doubled their advantage as Romelu Lukaku robbed the ball off from Kevin de Bruyne and fired a thumping shot into the roof of the net. 

France’s comeback

The Real Madrid star Karim Benzema pulled a goal back in the 60the minute of the second half and they score the equaliser as Mbappe’s confidently netted a penalty awarded when Youri Tielemans  tripped on Antoine Griezmann inside the box.

Lukaku thought he had won it with three minutes remaining after slotting in from Carrasco’s low cross, but the strike was ruled out by VAR for offside.

There was still time for Paul Pogba to hit the crossbar with a sublime curling free-kick from 30 yards out, before Hernandez struck late on.

Mbappe’s contribution 

France eased Deschamps’ pressure, who had won just one of his previous six games in charge, with an incredible second-half show to turn the game around.

The Manchester City midfielder thrashed a volley over from the edge of the box following good hold-up play by Lukaku, who should have added to his 68 international goals in the second half but struck a volley straight at the Tottenham goalkeeper.

The young Mbappe was causing havoc for the opponents with his pace and trickery and he side-footed a volley from 18 yards out, saved comfortably by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Benzema, who has scored 10 goals in 10 games for Real Madrid this season, showed he is a man in form by stroking in for 2-1 and Mbappe made it 2-2 from the penalty spot, having missed at Euro 2020 to send his side out.

Griezmann somehow scuffed wide from four yards out, Mbappe curled wide from the edge of the box and with the game heading to extra-time, Hernandez popped up with his first goal for France to seal a famous victory.

‘Golden generation’ losing the spark

Romelu Lukaku’s 68th goal in 101 appearances for Belgium went in vain. Belgium have been ranked the world number one side for more than three years, it is the only team to top the Fifa rankings without claiming a major trophy.

Under Martinez, the team’s best finish has been third place at the 2018 World Cup and the search for that elusive trophy goes on.

The country’s so called ‘golden generation’ are losing the spark and running out of time to be remembered as silverware winners, with De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all aged 30 or over.

The last day collapse against the world champions will be of particular concern to the team as they barely threatened after the second half and wilted under pressure from the resurgent France.

The final will be taking place at the San Siro on Sunday (19:45 BST kick-off), while the third-place play-off between Belgium and European champions Italy is in Turin on the same day (14:00).

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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