Kylian Mbappé redeemed himself with a goal and an assist as France came from two goals down to beat Belgium 3-2 Thursday and reach the Nations League final.
Theo Hernández scored the last-minute winner to complete the comeback and send world champion France through to Sunday’s final against Spain. It was only his second appearance for his country and came the day after his 24th birthday.
Two quickfire goals at the end of the first half had given Belgium a seemingly comfortable lead but Mbappé, who became the youngest player to reach 50 caps for Les Bleus, set up Karim Benzema’s goal in the 62nd minute and converted a penalty seven minutes later.
The 22-year-old Mbappé was made somewhat of a scapegoat for France’s failure at the European Championship after missing the decisive penalty in the shootout in France’s loss to Switzerland in the round of 16. For Belgium it was another disappointing failure for a team that has entered the past few major tournaments as one of the big favorites but hasn’t reached a big final since Euro 1980.
Even the official twitter account of the Belgian national team seemed confident of victory at halftime, tweeting “Well, that’s a comfortable lead!” — before gently mocking itself after the final whistle.
Theo Hernández and his brother Lucas Hernández were named in the starting lineup for France, in midfield and defense. It was the first time two brothers had played together for Les Bleus since Hervé and Patrick Revelli in 1974.
Spain beat Italy in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
Belgium was looking to avenge its semifinal defeat to France at the 2018 World Cup and it almost got off the perfect start as Jules Koundé’s woeful clearance from Romelu Lukaku’s cross fell straight to Kevin De Bruyne, who was in a great position in the middle of the penalty area. But his shot was palmed around the post by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Belgium took control shortly before halftime. Yannick Carrasco broke the deadlock in the 37th minute when he cut inside from the left, turned a defender and drilled into the near bottom corner.
De Bruyne provided the assist for that goal, spotting Carrasco’s run, and he did the same four minutes later as he threaded a through-ball to Lukaku, who collected with his back to goal before turning, racing clear of Lucas Hernández and firing into the roof of the net.