France completed a second half turnaround to come back from two goals down to defeat Belgium in the second semifinal clash of the UEFA Nations League finals and book a place in Sunday's final against Spain in Milan.

The World champions were inspired by goals from Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Theo Hernandez to overturn the two first half goals of Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku, who had given Belgium the lead.


Carrasco put Belgium ahead in the 37th minute, before Lukaku doubled their advantage with five minutes of the first half left. In an inspired second period Benzema struck first on the turn, before Mbappe scored from the spot, then, Hernandez struck at the dearth to break the hearts of the Belgian fans, who had seen a Lukaku second goal ruled out by VAR just few minutes earlier.


It was another spectacular showdown when two of the biggest footballing nations locked horns on Thursday night for a spot in the final of the UEFA Nations League as France played Belgium in Turin.

Kevin de Bruyne led the charge for the Reds as early as the third minute of play and couldn't believe how Hugo Lloris was able to keep out his effort from range. On the other end, Benjamin Pavard also gave a little work to do to Thibaut Courtois, but the Real Madrid stopper was not too troubled.

Both teams struggled to carve each other open as they lined up in similar formation, with three defenders and two wing backs supporting the midfield and defence.

Chances were scuffed by De Bruyne and Youri Tielemans, who could not hit the target. Mbappe also had a lame shot saved by Courtois, after he was set up by a fine interplay between, Benzema, Pavard and Antoine Griezmann.

France were the first to crack as De Bruyne's pass released Carrasco, who was faced by Pavard, but the Bayern Munich defender kept backing off, allowing Carrasco to wrong for Lloris for the opener.

De Bruyne was not done as he produced another exquisite pass three minutes later to Lukaku on the right side, which the Chelsea forward coolly slotted home for his team's second. That was his 10th goal in eight appearances in the UEFA Nations League.

The Les Blues were a changed side in the second half as they pushed Belgium back into their own half in search of a goal. Their efforts almost paid dividends in the 58th minute when Mbappe played well to setup Griezmann on the edge of the Belgium box, but the Atletico Madrid man scuffed his effort.

Just after the hour mark, France deservedly pulled one back through Benzema, who recently returned into the national team fold and was playing in his first UEFA Nations League match. Mbappe did well to keep the ball on the inside-left of attack, before sliding a cross to Benzema just inside the box, who shrugged off challenges from the Belgian defenders and hit a left-footed shot on a half turn past his club teammate, Courtois.

France increased the pressure and seven minutes later, they were awarded a penalty after a clumsy challenge on Griezmann by Tielemans, which was initially not given by referee Daniel Siebert, but he overturned his decision after a VAR review and going to the monitor himself. Mbappe placed the ball into the top right corner beyond the reach of Courtois to draw his team level.


Despite having the momentum into the final minutes, Les Blues were shocked in the 87th minute as Belgium broke on the counter, with Carrasco freed on the left side of attack, he sent a cross into the box where Lukaku was patiently waiting to poke beyond Lloris and score what was deemed the winning goal. Their hearts were shattered when a VAR review ruled out the goal for offside in the build up.

The dust of the Belgium disallowed goal was still yet to settle when the stadium erupted with the blue colour as Pavard's cross found Theo Hernandez on the left, who was almost put off by Benzema. The Madrid forward backed off, allowing Hernandez fire a thumping effort into the far post, which Courtois got a hand to, but was not enough to deny the goal.

Concluding Thoughts

Another disappointment for the golden generation of Belgium as they miss out on another final, just like they missed out of the 2018 World Cup final, where they were defeated by the same French side.

Both teams had disappointing outings at the Euros and were looking at the UEFA Nations League to salvage something off the year for them. It is France, however who have a shot at making it right in the final on Sunday.

Nonetheless, Belgium understand the array of talent they possess and need to get things together if they are to get anything of the third place playoff on Sunday against a wounded Italy.