International Soccer

Player ratings as Les Bleus sneak into Euro 2024 quarter-finals

France advanced to the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 with a 1-0 win against rivals Belgium.

A late own goal from Jan Vertonghen was all that separated the two sides in Dusseldorf as Les Bleus just about ran out as victors.

The Red Devils shut up shop for much of the evening but were wasteful on the counter attack and head home with a whimper.

How the game unfolded

An opening period bereft of chances nearly saw Belgium sneak in front when an in-swinging Kevin De Bruyne free-kick caught goalkeeper Mike Maignan by surprise, but he reacted just in time to sweep the ball away from goal.

France’s first opening came when Jules Kounde’s cross found the head of Marcus Thuram, but his effort whistled wide.

Just before the break, Aurelien Tchouameni lashed a shot over the top from just inside the box as a frustrating first 45 minutes for France came to a close.

On the other side of half-time, Tchouameni went closer when his strike deflected off of Wout Faes and forced Koen Casteels into a low save.

The French offence continued with Kylian Mbappe skipping past three defenders and curling a strike narrowly over Casteels’ bar.

Belgium should have gone in front when William Saliba was robbed of possession and De Bruyne set through Yannick Carrasco, but he took too long to get a shot away and was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Theo Hernandez.

De Bruyne himself managed to sting the palms of Maignan with Belgium’s next meaningful attack, coming inside off the left before letting fly at the French stopper.

With only five minutes remaining, France won the tie. Patient play on the edge of the Belgium box ended with N’Golo Kante feeding Randal Kolo Muani, and his shot ricocheted off the leg of Vertonghen and past a helpless Casteels to send Les Bleus through.

Theo Hernandez, Yannick Carrasco

Hernandez was impressive / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

GK: Mike Maignan – 6/10 – Had little to do other than save a couple of De Bruyne sighters. Quick off his line to clear imminent danger.

RB: Jules Kounde – 7/10 – Given the licence to get high up the pitch and add another body to attacks. Involved in the move leading to the winning goal.

CB: Dayot Upamecano – 6/10 – Spun by Openda early on but hardly troubled thereafter. With Saliba managed to dampen the threat of Lukaku.

CB: William Saliba – 6/10 – Likewise didn’t give Lukaku a sniff. A tad fortunate that Belgium didn’t capitalise on the instance he lost the ball in midfield.

LB: Theo Hernandez – 7/10 – The only player who was a threat at both ends. Bailed France out with last-gasp tackles and held his nerve when on the ball in the final third.

CM: N’Golo Kante – 7/10 – Not a vintage Kante display but an efficient one nonetheless. A little sloppier than usual and got away with some niggling fouls, but ultimately came up with a winning assist and gave Belgium headaches.

CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 6/10 – Calm and collected in midfield. A lot of France’s moves ended with him firing over the crossbar for some reason.

CM: Adrien Rabiot – 4/10 – The first French player in history to play at a Euros without being contracted to a club. He certainly played like someone who is out of work but not by choice. Absent in the midfield battle.

RW: Antoine Griezmann – 5/10 – Didn’t suit playing out wide and gradually drifted infield as the game went on.

CF: Marcus Thuram – 5/10 – Tried to bring others into play when dropping deep. Missed two big headers prior to being substituted.

LW: Kylian Mbappe – 6/10 – Didn’t let his broken nose detract from his lightning turn of pace. Belgium feared him but managed to close him down the closer he got to goal.

Substitutes

SUB: Randal Kolo Muani (62′ for Thuram) – 6/10

Subs not used: Brice Samba (GK), Alphonse Areola (GK), Benjamin Pavard, Ibrahima Konate, Ferland Mendy, Jonathan Clauss, Eduardo Camavinga, Warren Zaire-Emery, Youssouf Fofana, Kingsley Coman, Bradley Barcola, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud

Manager

Didier Deschamps – 6/10 – France squeak through just as they always do. The winning machine just about keeps rolling.

FBL-EURO-2024-MATCH42-FRA-BEL

De Bruyne cut a frustrated figure / INA FASSBENDER/GettyImages

GK: Koen Casteels – 6/10 – Brought into a few saves in the second half but for the most part was well protected until the late sucker-punch.

RB: Timothy Castagne – 5/10 – Understandably didn’t enjoy trying to take down Mbappe. Didn’t do a horrendous job of that at least.

CB: Wout Faes – 6/10 – Shifted across to double up on Mbappe, at which point the forward usually ran into trouble.

CB: Jan Vertonghen – 5/10 – A cruel end to Belgium’s Euros campaign saw the ball bounce off Vertonghen’s knee and past his own goalkeeper. Hard to blame him too much for that. Got into afters with Mbappe when the Frenchman wanted a soft penalty.

LB: Arthur Theate – 5/10 – Surprisingly sloppy with the ball, but that didn’t matter a lot because Belgium’s plan seemingly wasn’t to have the ball.

RM: Yannick Carrasco – 5/10 – Spurned Belgium’s best chance they had to kill France. Rarely had the beating of Hernandez.

CM: Amadou Onana – 5/10 – Hard to tell if Onana’s shyness to get on the ball was an instruction or just his usual style. Failed to impose himself and was even beaten to a header by Kante, who is half his size.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 6/10 – Began the game as a deep-lying playmaker for some reason. Improved as the match continued and was able to pull the strings higher up the pitch.

LM: Jeremy Doku – 5/10 – Frustrated not to have had more fouls called. Belgium only managed to get him on the ball in non-threatening errors.

CF: Romelu Lukaku – 4/10 – You’d almost be mistaken for thinking Lukaku was unfit or coming off a major injury. Couldn’t get the ball to stick and was out of touch with his teammates.

CF: Lois Openda – 5/10 – Pressed well and had the beating of Upamecano once in the first half, which brought about questions of why Belgium didn’t go down this avenue to goal much more often.

Substitutes

SUB: Orel Mangala (63′ for Openda) – 5/10

SUB: Charles De Ketelaere (88′ for Carrasco) – N/A

SUB: Dodi Lukebakio (88′ for Castagne) – N/A

Subs not used: Thomas Kaminski (GK), Matz Sels (GK), Zeno Debast, Axel Witsel, Maxim De Cuyper, Aster Vranckx, Youri Tielemans, Arthur Vermeeren, Charles De Ketelaere, Johan Bakayoko, Leandro Trossard

Manager

Domenico Tedesco – 3/10 – A baffling use of resources. Belgium tried to sneak a win but rarely made inroads to make that happen.

Player of the match – Jules Kounde (France)

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