France have done incredibly well since their opening game hammering at the hands of Germany. They no doubt wanted a crack at the German’s again and rectify their huge loss. Belgium was who stood in their way and they were not about to give up the opportunity to have a shot at winning the country’s first major international honour.
Both teams had great chances to take the lead early on but it was Belgium on 27th minute who drew first blood. Hazard skipped passed Varane and Pavard before finding Mertens standing on his own in the French Box. After some neat footwork, Mertens took the ball around Lenglet before striking the ball low and hard, leaving Lloris defenseless.Nothing much else of note happened in the first half, with both sides excercising caution.
The game was very much in the balance in the second half, until Pogba grabbed it by the scruff of the neck. The polarizing midfielder pulverized the back of the Belgian net on the 54th minute with a graceful shot from the outside of the box. Belgiums failure to close him down may further exposing their defensive weakness that has been apparent throughout the competition. A mere ten minutes later Antoine Greizmann had the French ahead, tipping the ball elegantly passed Alderweireld before scoring at the near post against Courtois.
Belgium pressed but could not find a way through the sturdy French back line. That was until Rafael Varane made a hugely rash decision to put in a double footed tackle on Dries Mertens. David Campion, the French manager was furious, Mertens was no where near the box, and the Real Madrid man received a red card for his ridiculous challenge.
With 15 minutes left could the French hole onto their lead? The answer was a resounding no. Immediately after the red card Hazard had drawn level for Belgium before Kevin De Bruyne put them ahead two minutes later. The gaping defensive hole left by Varane was even more apparent five minutes later, as Mertens had miles of space to run into eventually finding Hazard who calmly set up Kevin De Bruyne for Belgiums fourth goal of the game.
France will leave the tournament just like they left the 2006 World Cup finals, cursing a red card of an integral player, while Belgium go in as underdogs against a strong German team.