Internationals: Lukaku nets but Belgium bow out of UEFA Nations League

Romelu Lukaku was on the scoresheet in Turin but it was not enough for Belgium, who lost 3-2 in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals.

It will be reigning world champions France that take on Spain this Sunday after victory in a topsy-turvy encounter in Italy, where Lukaku’s goal proved insufficient to seal victory for the Red Devils.

Despite France dominating proceedings in the first period, two goals in three minutes before the break put Belgium in a commanding position. 

Atletico Madrid wideman Yannick Carrasco opened the scoring with an effort that left Hugo Lloris flat-footed and beaten after 37 minutes before Lukaku doubled the advantage with an improbable right-footed finish into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

Despite trailing 2-0, Les Bleus hit back through Karim Benzema before Kylian Mbappe equalised from the spot after the referee awarded a penalty following consultation with the VAR monitor.

In a dramatic finale, Lukaku netted what he thought was the winner with a smart close-range finish but the offside flag ruled it out and Theo Fernandez then delivered the knockout blow with a precise effort into the bottom corner from 18 yards out.

It means France progress to Sunday’s final, where they will take on Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso’s Spanish side for the Nations League title.

Conor Gallagher was also among the goals for England Under-21s, who drew 2-2 away in Slovenia in qualification for the European Championship at that age group. The midfielder opened the scoring after just five minutes in Celje, slotting a tidy finish over the goalkeeper after Rhian Brewster’s burst into the box.

Manchester City’s Cole Palmer hit a second but the hosts fired back in the second half and secured the draw, snatching the first points from Lee Carsley’s men in this qualifying campaign.

Earlier on Thursday, Tino Anjorin and Henry Lawrence featured as England Under-20s drew 1-1 with their counterparts from Italy in Chesterfield. Anjorin was among the starters while Lawrence, on loan at AFC Wimbledon, came off the bench for Andy Edwards’s side.

The hosts fell behind to a goal from Daniel Maldini, the latest in the footballing family lineage, before former Blue Lewis Bate fired in the equaliser four minutes before the break.

Elsewhere, four of our youngsters were involved as England Under-18s were beaten 2-1 by Norway. Brodi Hughes started at centre-back and Silko Thomas on the wing, while Lewis Hall and Jude Soonsup-Bell came off the bench for the young Lions in Marbella.

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