Belgium 2-1 Wales: Still bored Kevin? De Bruyne inspires Belgians to victory over Robert Page’s side with a goal and an assist in Nations League clash… before Kieffer Moore pulled one back
- Kevin De Bruyne was ‘bored’ of playing Wales, but scored one and made another
- Michy Batshuayi also found the net as the hosts saw off a resilient Wales
- Kieffer Moore scored a scrappy consolation header early in the second half
- Wales must beat Poland comfortably at home on Sunday to avoid relegation
After Kevin De Bruyne said he was bored of playing Wales so often, 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 about facing the same team this regularly – was given all the space he needed to run the game in the first half.
Kieffer Moore replied for Wales early in an improved second-half display, with Gareth Bale coming on in the 64th minute.
Kevin De Bruyne scored one and assisted the other as Belgium put Wales away 2-1 in Brussels
TOM COLLOMOSSE’S RATINGS
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
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was sent off in stoppage time, apparently for protesting, leaving assistant Thierry Henry barking orders from the touchline for the closing stages.
The result leaves Wales needing to beat Poland on Sunday, their final game before the World Cup, to be sure of staying in Nations League A.
Belgium, meanwhile, looked superb in attack yet perhaps remain too fragile at the back to triumph in Qatar.
This was the ninth time these nations had met in the last decade and Wales were without Ben Davies, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Harry Wilson, with Bale also on the bench, and their replacements struggled.
The hosts were already moving smoothly when De Bruyne finished a fluent move to put them ahead. Thomas Meunier set Batshuayi away and when the ball was rolled to the edge of the box, De Bruyne guided it in via Wayne Hennessey’s palm.
After that, it was all Belgium. Youri Tielemans put a fine chance wide and De Bruyne burst through only to stumble at the vital moment, before he nearly doubled the lead from the same spot but hit the post.
Seven minutes before half-time, the home side broke through again when Meunier freed De Bruyne to send a perfectly-weighted cross to the far post where Batshuayi couldn’t miss.
No matter how much they are struggling, though, this Wales side have a remarkable ability to stay in games.
Moments after the second goal, Joe Rodon’s header was hooked away by Axel Witsel and Thibaut Courtois made his first save of the night to push away Ethan Ampadu’s follow-up.
Then Wales pulled a goal back five minutes after half-time when Brennan Johnson raced into Belgian territory and found the perfect cross for Moore to head home at the far post.
Bale was sent on soon after the hour mark and operated at the centre of the front three, but it was Belgium thought they had a penalty in the closing stages when De Bruyne tumbled under Joe Morrell’s challenge but the substitute was reprieved by VAR.
Johnson continued to test Belgium veteran Jan Vertonghen and also fired just wide with five minutes left.
Michy Batshuayi scored the second goal as the dominant hosts made the most of the first half
Kieffer Moore scored the header which gave Wales hope, but was just a consolation on the day
Wales manager Robert Page was able to introduce injury doubt Gareth Bale in the second half
Read how Sportsmail’s SAMUEL DRAPER covered Thursday’s action in the live blog for the Nations League clash between Belgium and Wales.