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Football European Championship

France Edges Past Belgium On Deflected Muani Shot

  • July 1, 2024
  • 2 min read
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France Edges Past Belgium On Deflected Muani Shot

Randal Kolo Muani’s deflected shot in the 85th minute proved decisive as France edged past Belgium 1-0 in a Round of 16 encounter at the European Championship on Monday.

Muani, who came on as a substitute for Marcus Thuram, saw his effort take a touch off Jan Vertonghen, wrong-footing goalkeeper Koen Casteels and finding the net at the near post.

Despite featuring the top two ranked teams in Europe, the match failed to live up to the pre-game hype, offering a largely underwhelming spectacle.

Billed as a clash of titans, the opening stages were a cagey affair, with both sides prioritizing a cautious, technical approach, resulting in few clear-cut chances in the first quarter.

Belgium’s defensive strategy allowed France to dominate possession, but they struggled to penetrate a resolute Belgian backline, resorting to unthreatening horizontal passing. The deadlock remained unbroken at halftime, with France the marginally better team.

The second half mirrored the first, with both defenses holding firm and clear opportunities remaining scarce.

Ultimately, Muani’s introduction as a substitute proved to be the game-changer. His deflected shot found its way past Casteels and was credited as a Vertonghen own goal, sending France through to the quarterfinals.

Belgium’s disappointing tournament comes to an end. Despite boasting a golden generation, their performances lacked inspiration. Kevin De Bruyne, in particular, was subdued, dropping deep and only managing one easily saved from long-range effort. Romelu Lukaku was another peripheral figure, starved of service and unable to trouble the French defense.

Kylian Mbappé, sporting a protective mask after his recent nose injury, was similarly quiet. He did attempt a shot before halftime but blazed it wide. Worryingly for France, they are yet to score from open play in the Euros. They will need a significant improvement if they are to challenge for their first European title since 2000.

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Samkelo Biyela

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