Wednesday, 20 October, 2021

Hernandez fires France into Nations League final

Hernandez fires France into Nations League final
France defender Theo Hernandez celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Nations League semi-final against Belgium at Juventus stadium in Turin on Friday. – AFP PHOTO

Theo Hernandez shot France into a Nations League final with Spain on Friday with a last-gasp strike which earned Les Bleus a thrilling 3-2 win from two goals down against Belgium.

AC Milan full-back Hernandez netted his first France goal in the 90th minute of his second international appearance after France had come back from 2-0 down at half-time at the Allianz Stadium in Turin through strikes from Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe.

Didier Deschamps' side will face La Roja in Monday's final at the San Siro in Milan after an exciting encounter which Belgium thought they had won in the final minutes when Romelu Lukaku netted from Yannick Carrasco's cross.

However with the Red Devils players still celebrating, Lukaku's first-time finish was ruled out for offside.

And with the match looking like it was heading to extra-time, Hernandez collected the ball on the left before rifling home the winner.

He had started the match alongside his brother Lucas Hernandez, making the pair the first two brothers to play for France since Herve and Patrick Revelli featured in a friendly against Romania in 1974.

"Winning that match from where we were proves the strength of character of this team," Deschamps told TF1 after the match.

Belgium's opening goal came eight minutes before the break, Carrasco cutting inside Pavard and then drilling a low shot between Lloris and his near post.

And three minutes later Lukaku, who flopped in the same stadium last week in a Chelsea shirt, doubled Belgium's lead with his sixth goal in six games for his country.

Left with a tough task to make the final France came out firing after the restart, and Mbappe was the key to drawing them level.

He tricked his way past Youri Tielemans and passed to Benzema, who flashed home despite being surrounded by Belgium defenders.

He then crashed home the spot-kick which set up an exciting finish after Tielemans' clumsy foul on Griezmann was spotted following a VAR check.

Hernandez then snatched a win which highlighted all the qualities which made the French world champions.