Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Hugo Lloris on Thursday hailed Kylian Mbappe’s superb performance which pushed France to bounce back from two goals down at half-time to beat Belgium 3-2 and reach the Nations League final.
Theo Hernandez struck the late winner which set-up a clash with Spain at the San Siro on Sunday but it was Mbappe who led the fightback in the second half on his 50th France appearance.
Mbappe, who is the youngest ever player to rack up half a century of Les Bleus caps, provided the pass from which Karim Benzema halved the deficit just after the hour mark and netted the penalty that levelled the scores in the 69th minute.
“Taking that responsibility at that moment of the match was fantastic,” Lloris told reporters.
“Yes he has a lot of talent but behind that he has a winner’s mentality. We’re all happy for him in the dressing room.”
Mbappe, 22, had a difficult summer, missing the penalty which knocked world champions France out of Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage and then being at the centre of a transfer saga which saw his desired move to Real Madrid denied by Paris Saint-Germain.
He also said in a recent interview with L’Equipe that he would have liked more support from the France set-up and his teammates after missing that spot-kick in June.
But France coach Didier Deschamps insisted that he “always tried to be there with him, and right behind him”.
“There are a lot of demands and expectations around him, but I have always known that the France team will be stronger with Kylian. I have never doubted that,” Deschamps told reporters.
Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, said that Belgium let the weight of expectation get the better of them, saying that the desire for a golden generation to win a trophy held them back in the second half.
“The quality was shown in first half, second half was a question of emotion and feeling responsibility… it became a game that we wanted to finish and wanted to get into the final. At that point we stopped playing,” Belgium coach Martinez said.
“We’re hurting but 12 months from now we have a major tournament (World Cup). It’s a good opportunity to show that we can grow from this experience.”
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