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France Edges Belgium 1-0 to Secure Euro 2024 Quarter-Finals Spot

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France clinched a place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals with a narrow 1-0 victory over Belgium on Monday, courtesy of Jan Vertonghen’s late own goal in a tightly contested match in Duesseldorf.

Despite dominating the last-16 encounter, France struggled to convert their opportunities, and the match seemed destined for extra time. However, with just five minutes remaining, substitute Randal Kolo Muani’s shot deflected off Vertonghen and past Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels, securing the win for the French team.

The victory propels France, the 2022 World Cup runners-up, into the last-eight, where they will face their next opponents in Hamburg on Friday. The French squad remains in pursuit of their third European championship title.

Interestingly, France has yet to score from open play in the tournament. Captain Kylian Mbappe’s only goal came from a penalty against Poland, while their other two goals were own goals from opposing teams. Despite their offensive challenges, France’s defense has been impressive, conceding just one goal—a penalty—so far in the competition.

The French back line was particularly effective against Belgium’s attack, which included star forward Romelu Lukaku. As a result, Belgium exits the tournament with a disappointing performance.

Both teams entered the match with a desire for revenge. Belgium sought to avenge their 1-0 defeat to France in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, a lingering disappointment for them. France, on the other hand, aimed to redeem themselves after being eliminated in the last 16 of the previous Euros by Switzerland in a penalty shootout.

France, considered strong contenders for the title before the tournament, underperformed during the group stage. Mbappe’s broken nose in their opener against Austria and Antoine Griezmann’s inconsistent form were setbacks. Griezmann, who was benched for the final group match against Poland, returned to the starting lineup, along with Marcus Thuram, replacing Ousmane Dembele and Bradley Barcola.

Forwards Struggle to Impress

Belgium’s coach, Domenico Tedesco, made notable changes to his lineup in response to their lackluster group stage performances. Yannick Carrasco and Lois Openda started to bolster the attack alongside Lukaku, while Kevin De Bruyne took on a more withdrawn role.

Expectations for an open, high-scoring game were dashed as Belgium opted for a defensive approach, limiting France’s chances. Belgium failed to test French goalkeeper Mike Maignan in the first half.

Although France enjoyed possession, they appeared disorganized and lacked precision, with Griezmann particularly ineffective on the right wing. However, they created a few opportunities, with Thuram heading wide from a Jules Kounde cross and Aurelien Tchouameni missing the target twice.

In the second half, Tchouameni’s deflected long-range shot forced a save from Casteels, as France intensified their efforts.

Ultimately, France’s perseverance paid off with Vertonghen’s own goal, allowing them to advance and continue their quest for the Euro 2024 title.

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