Belgium's golden generation falls short again at World Cup - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Belgium's golden generation falls short again at World Cup

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein). Belgium's Vincent Kompany, left, and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois leave the field after the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in, St. Petersburg, Russ... (AP Photo/Frank Augstein). Belgium's Vincent Kompany, left, and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois leave the field after the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in, St. Petersburg, Russ...
(AP Photo/David Vincent). Belgium's Romelu Lukaku reacts after missing a scoring chance during the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/David Vincent). Belgium's Romelu Lukaku reacts after missing a scoring chance during the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
(AP Photo/David Vincent). Belgium's Jan Vertonghen stands during the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/David Vincent). Belgium's Jan Vertonghen stands during the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
(AP Photo/Petr David Josek). France's Samuel Umtiti celebrates at the end of the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. France won 1-0. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek). France's Samuel Umtiti celebrates at the end of the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. France won 1-0.

By MIKE CORDER
Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - Belgium's golden generation has come up short at a major tournament. Again.

With Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in fantastic form creating chances for themselves and Romelu Lukaku up front, Vincent Kompany fit again at the heart of the defense and Thibaut Courtois standing tall in goal, these Red Devils racked up more goals than any other team in the World Cup. Through five matches, it looked as if they could finally deliver on their promise.

But with their King Philippe watching from the stands, there was to be no coronation.

After reaching the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1986, Roberto Martinez's talent-packed team lost 1-0 to France on Tuesday at St. Petersburg Stadium on a Samuel Umtiti second-half header from a corner kick.

"Damn set piece, that's all I can say," Kompany said.

A Belgium team featuring many of the same stars lost 1-0 to Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinal four years ago and then was shocked 3-1 by Wales in the European Championship quarterfinals two years ago.

Even through the first 30 minutes in St. Petersburg, this side had looked different, carving out chances and containing France's counterattacks.

"We had more chances today, we had more control of the match," Kompany said. "We weren't in control two years ago against Argentina."

But the potent Belgian attack gradually faded as France's rock-solid defense handed Belgium its first shutout of the tournament.

Instead of playing Sunday in Moscow for its first World Cup, Belgium will be back in St. Petersburg on Saturday, playing in the third-place match and wondering if its championship window has closed.

Belgium's beaten players did not want to talk about the end of an era - not with stars like 27-year-old De Bruyne, 26-year-old Courtois and 25-year-old Lukaku in the team and more coming through the youth ranks.

"Generations. Who talks about generations?" De Bruyne said. "We are a small country. We can be very happy and lucky that we can have the team what we have. We don't have the resources, the infrastructure, the money that other countries have. What we have is a really good team that performed really well."

The last time a Belgium team got this far at the World Cup, it lost 2-0 to Argentina at the 1986 tournament in Mexico. A pair of Diego Maradona second-half goals sank Belgium that day.

Long considered the a lesser footballing nation than its neighbor the Netherlands - whose orange-clad teams have reached three World Cup finals and lost them all - this Belgium team has at least dispelled the Dutch shadow.

Kompany, an injury-prone 32-year-old who may well have played his last World Cup in Russia, believes that, despite the loss, the class of 2018 has done his nation a favor.

"Generations come and go," Kompany said. "For Belgian football I think eventually there will still be an opportunity to do well. It allows the country to be more ambitious and believe in its own talent. So maybe for the future we've still done something good for Belgian football."

Martinez didn't talk about the end of an era, but he was already looking to the future after the match.

"As it happens in any big tournament, you need to look at the younger generations and try to become stronger," he said. "From tournament to tournament, that's the drive and the ambition."

Belgium was left Tuesday still clinging to the elusive ambition of reaching a first World Cup final.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • 2018 FIFA World CupWorld Cup & soccer newsMore>>

  • World Cup finale reaches 16 million viewers in U.S.

    World Cup finale reaches 16 million viewers in U.S.

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 4:35 PM EDT2018-07-17 20:35:40 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 4:03 PM EDT2018-07-18 20:03:59 GMT
    (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP). From left, France's Djibril Sidibe, N'Golo Kante and Florian Thauvin pose with the World Cup trophy during an official reception at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, Monday, July 16, 2018. France is readying to...(Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP). From left, France's Djibril Sidibe, N'Golo Kante and Florian Thauvin pose with the World Cup trophy during an official reception at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, Monday, July 16, 2018. France is readying to...
    The World Cup final between France and Croatia reached 16 million viewers Sunday on Fox and Telemundo.More >>
    The World Cup final between France and Croatia reached 16 million viewers Sunday on Fox and Telemundo.More >>
  • Usain Bolt to make run at pro soccer in Australia

    Usain Bolt to make run at pro soccer in Australia

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 11:13 AM EDT2018-07-17 15:13:46 GMT
    Tuesday, July 17 2018 6:44 PM EDT2018-07-17 22:44:48 GMT
    Trading spikes for boots, Usain Bolt ready to make run at pro soccer in Australia.More >>
    Trading spikes for boots, Usain Bolt ready to make run at pro soccer in Australia.More >>
  • No refuge from politics but France victory a fitting climax

    No refuge from politics but France victory a fitting climax

    Sunday, July 15 2018 6:19 PM EDT2018-07-15 22:19:49 GMT
    Tuesday, July 17 2018 11:46 AM EDT2018-07-17 15:46:33 GMT
    This World Cup was never going to be a refuge from politics when it was being staged in Putin's Russia, but the players did their best to keep the tournament for themselves.More >>
    This World Cup was never going to be a refuge from politics when it was being staged in Putin's Russia, but the players did their best to keep the tournament for themselves.More >>
Powered by Frankly