Nations League 2022: Kevin De Bruyne inspires Belgium to win against Wales


Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne now has 25 goals in 92 games for Belgium

Kevin de Bruyne was at his best as Belgium held off a tough fightback against Wales to leave them on the brink of relegation in the Nations League.

De Bruyne caressed the opener fortuitously from the edge of the box and hit the post with another shot from a similar distance, before crossing for Michy Batshuayi to touch down the home side’s second.

Belgium’s 2-0 half-time lead did not reflect their slump in chances, and that lead was halved when Kieffer Moore headed in a lovely cross from Brennan Johnson.

After Belgium had a penalty disallowed by the video assistant referee, replays showed Joe Morrell had cleared De Bruyne, pushing Wales to an unlikely late equaliser, only to be thwarted by a home side who seemed unable to foresee such a nervous conclusion to a game. intended to win in a hat.

With Poland losing at home to the Netherlands, Wales need to beat Poland 2-1 or more in Cardiff on Sunday to retain top spot in the Nations League.

Robert Lewandowski and company will pose another stern challenge to Robert Page’s men and, while Poland may not be at the same level as this star-studded Belgian side, Wales will still be without many first-team players through injury.

The absence of the likes of Ben Davies, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Harry Wilson was keenly felt in Brussels, but a gutsy second-half display provided enough impetus to suggest Wales belonged at that level.

The ‘bored’ but brilliant De Bruyne inspires Belgium

It was the ninth meeting between these groups in 10 years and the fourth in the last 18 months; understandable, therefore, that De Bruyne previously said that he was “bored” of facing these opponents.

The Manchester City midfielder was the picture of indifference towards his own goal, a first-time left-footed shot carelessly side-footed by Hennessey, who got his hands on the ball but couldn’t tuck it into the bottom corner.

De Bruyne can be unstoppable regardless of the opposition, so it only made matters worse for Wales to have such a charitable possession in the closing stages of the Belgian master.

Matt Smith delivered the ball for the opening goal, and the Welsh backs were woefully out of sorts when De Bruyne curled a 20-yard shot that Hennessey was left unable to cannon off the post.

The Welsh keeper was kept busy in the first half and, had it not been for Belgium’s many other shots going wide, the visitors would have faced a hammering.

A depleted Wales in the fight

As has often been the case in recent games, Wales were without an influential player through injury.

Davies, Ramsey, Allen and Wilson were missing 260 caps, and captain Gareth Bale – a veteran of 106 appearances – was alone on the bench.

He left the Wales squad with 364 caps, 104 of which were for Hennessey, while Belgium had 899.

That gap in experience – and the wider gulf in quality – was glaring in the first half as Wales’ midfield failed to hold onto the ball or track opposition runners and their defense became clumsy.

The visitors were heading into the break but, to their credit, started the second half with purpose and surprised Belgium with a goal out of nowhere.

Johnson was excellent in creating it, running at the hosts’ questionable defenders before cutting a wonderful floating cross to the back post where Moore towered over his markers to head home.

The goal reinvigorated Wales, who looked increasingly threatening at half-time with the pace of Dan James and particularly Johnson seeming to terrorize their opponents at times.

Bale came on for the final half hour and, as the game entered the closing stages, Wales pushed forward desperately with Neco Williams seeing a shot saved by Thibaut Courtois and Chris Mepham.

That late onslaught proved futile as Wales needed to avenge June’s 2-1 defeat by Poland with an equal or better point on Sunday to avoid relegation to the second tier of the Nations League.

The eleven

Belgium

training 3-4-2-1

  • 1Courtois
  • 4devastation
  • 2Alderweireld
  • 5in Vertong
  • 15Meunier
  • 8Tielemansreplaced byVanakenin 76′minutes
  • 6Witsel
  • 11Carrascoreplaced byMertensin 65′minutes
  • 7De Bruynereplaced byLet’s goin 90+2′minutes
  • 10E Riskreplaced byTrossardin 65′minutes
  • 23Batshuayireplaced byThe analystsin 65′minutes

replacements

  • 3the theater
  • 9The analysts
  • 12Mignolet
  • 13the castles
  • 14Mertens
  • 16Let’s go
  • 17Trossard
  • 18drunk
  • 19Dendoncker
  • 20Vanaken
  • 21Chestnuts
  • 22Screen makers

wales

training 3-4-2-1

  • 1Hennessey
  • 5MefamBooked in 49 minutes
  • 6rounded
  • 17Norrington-Daviesreplaced byRobertsin 84′minutes
  • 14Roberts
  • 15AmpaduBooked in 59 minutes
  • 8Smithreplaced byMorrellin 64′minutes
  • 3N Williams
  • 9Johnson
  • 20James
  • 13Moorereplaced byBalein 64′minutesBooked in 78 minutes

replacements

  • 2gunter
  • 4think
  • 7Levitt
  • 10Roberts
  • 11Bale
  • 12Ward
  • 16Morrell
  • 18Williams
  • 19M Harris
  • 21the king
  • 22Thomas
  • 23Harris

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