Mbappé and France into Euro 2024 quarterfinals after Muani's late goal beats Belgium 1-0


DUESSLEDORF, Germany — Kylian Mbappé and France advanced to the European Championship quarterfinals after Randal Kolo Muani’s deflected shot secured a 1-0 win over Belgium on Monday.

Kolo Muani sent in an effort in the 85th minute that looped up off Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen and over stranded goalkeeper Koen Casteels.

France will play Portugal or Slovenia in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Mbappé, again wearing a mask to protect his broken nose, had five shots but none were on target in a low-quality match between the teams ranked No. 2 (France) and No. 3 (Belgium) who largely canceled each other out.

The French won ugly but, for coach Didier Deschamps, it was “beautiful.”

“We played a tough game against a great team, it was close,” he said. “Although I think we had a lot more possession and a lot more chances. Kolo is Kolo!

“We have to savor it. We mustn’t underestimate this achievement. We’re in the quarterfinals.”

Add a fortunate deflected shot to an own-goal and a penalty — scored by Mbappé — as France’s only goals at Euro 2024.

That will do little to stop the growing dissent of France’s fans who feel more can come from a talented bunch of players headlined by Mbappé, playing on the day he officially became a Real Madrid player.

Mbappé will be playing in his first ever quarterfinal at the European Championship, with France having lost on a penalty shootout to Switzerland in the last 16 at the last tournament in 2021.

It was also a nice moment for Kolo Muani, whose last big moment at a major tournament came when he bore down on goal in the last seconds of extra time in the 2022 World Cup final against Argentina. His shot was saved by Emi Martinez, when a goal would surely have won the title for France.

“I was lucky enough to get my shot on target,” he said of his decisive intervention against Belgium. “It was blocked but it went in. We’re very, very happy and very, very proud.”

Belgium heads home after a fairly miserable Euro 2024, during which the players were jeered loudly by their own fans following a 0-0 draw with Ukraine at the end of the group stage.

Belgium captain Kevin De Bruyne was deployed as a deep-lying midfielder in a bid to help control the game, with the Belgians intent on not leaving it open for France’s quick attackers like Mbappé.

The tactic would have been a masterstroke had Belgium won.

It didnt, and more criticism is likely heading coach Domenico Tedesco’s way.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024



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