Belgium 2-1 Wales: Kevin still bored? De Bruyne inspires Belgians to win over Robert Page’s side with goal and assist in Nations League clash… before Kieffer Moore pulled one out
- Kevin De Bruyne was ‘bored’ of playing Wales but scored one and made another
- Michy Batshuayi got the other when the dominant hosts saw a resilient Wales
- Kieffer Moore scored a striking consolation cup early in the second half
- Wales must comfortably beat Poland at home on Sunday to avoid relegation
After Kevin De Bruyne said he was tired of playing in Wales so much, Rob Page’s men decided to let him have some fun.
De Bruyne was sensational, scoring the first and creating the second for Michy Batshuayi, but the Manchester City star – who had complained of regularly facing the same team – was given all the space he needed to lead the game in the first half . Kieffer Moore answered early for Wales in an improved second half, with Gareth Bale in the 64th minute. Belgium national coach Roberto Martinez was sent off in stoppage time, apparently over protest, leading assistant Thierry Henry to bark orders from the sidelines for the final phase.
The result means Wales will have to beat Poland on Sunday, their last game before the World Cup, to ensure a stay in Nations League A. Belgium, meanwhile, looked fantastic in attack, but may have remained too vulnerable in the back to triumph in Qatar.
Kevin De Bruyne scored one and assisted the other as Belgium held off Wales 2-1 in Brussels
This was the ninth time these countries have met in the last decade and Wales was without Ben Davies, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Harry Wilson, with Bale also on the bench, and their replacements were struggling.
The hosts were already moving quickly as De Bruyne completed a smooth move to put them ahead. Thomas Meunier put Batshuayi away and as the ball rolled to the edge of the penalty area, De Bruyne led it in through Wayne Hennessey’s palm.
Then it was all of Belgium. Youri Tielemans shot a fine chance wide and De Bruyne burst through, but stumbled at the crucial moment, before almost doubling the lead from the same spot but hitting the post.
Seven minutes before half time, the home side broke through again as Meunier freed De Bruyne to send a perfectly weighted cross to the far post where Batshuayi couldn’t miss.
Michy Batshuayi scored the second goal as the dominant hosts made the most of the first half
No matter how much they struggle, this side of Wales has a remarkable ability to stay in games. Moments after the second goal, a header from Joe Rodon was cleared by Axel Witsel and Thibaut Courtois made his first save of the evening to clear Ethan Ampadu’s follow-up.
Then Wales withdrew a goal five minutes after the break as Brennan Johnson drove into Belgian territory and found the perfect cross for Moore to go home at the far post.
Bale was sent off shortly after the hour and operated in the middle of the front three, but it was Belgium who thought they would get a penalty in the closing stages when De Bruyne tumbled under the challenge of Joe Morrell, but the substitute was given a postponement by VAR. Johnson continued to test Belgian veteran Jan Vertonghen and also fired just wide with five minutes to go.
Kieffer Moore scored the header that gave Wales hope, but was only a consolation on the day
Read how Sportsmail’s SAMUEL DRAPER covered Thursday’s action in the live blog for the Nations League clash between Belgium and Wales.
REVIEWS FROM TOM COLLOMOSSE
Belgium (3-4-2-1): Courtois 6; Debast 6.5, Alderweireld 6, Vertonghen 5; Meunier 7, Tielemans 6.5 (Vanaken 76), Witsel 7, Carrasco 7.5 (Mertens 65, 6); De Bruyne 9 (De Ketelaere 90), Hazard 8 (Trossard 65, 6); Batshuayi 6 (Openda 65, 6).
Subs not used: Mignolet, Casteels, Theate, Onana, Dendoncker, Castagne, Saelemaekers.
Scorers: De Bruyne 11, Batshuayi 38
Manager: Roberto Martinez 7
Wales (3-4-2-1): Hennessey 6.5; Mepham 5.5, Rodon 6, Norrington-Davies 5.5 (T Roberts 85); C Roberts 6, Ampadu 6, Smith 4.5 (Morrell 64, 6), N Williams 6; Johnson 7.5, James 6; Moore 6.5 (Bale 64, 6).
Subs not used: Ward, King, Gunter, Cabango, Levitt, J Williams, M Harris, Thomas, L Harris.
Scorers: Moore 50
Booked: Mepham, Ampadu
Manager: Rob Page 6
Referee: Ali Palabiyik 6
Wales manager Robert Page could doubt Gareth Bale over injuries in the second half