Wales sink after bright start as Romelu Lukaku seals Belgium comeback | Football

Wales got here away with one other magical second in opposition to Belgium however Harry Wilson’s fantastic strike proved inadequate as they fell to defeat of their opening World Cup qualifier.

Wilson rounded off a slick crew transfer to earn an early lead however the aspect ranked No 1 on this planet responded in type, Kevin De Bruyne blasting in from distance earlier than a Thorgan Hazard header primed Belgium for a snug comeback victory, with Romelu Lukaku sealing the win from the penalty spot.

Wales’s most interesting second got here when these sides final met 5 years in the past when Hal Robson-Kanu, then a free agent, nonchalantly turned Thomas Meunier and Axel Witsel on the penalty spot earlier than beating Thibaut Courtois to propel Chris Coleman’s aspect into the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Rather a lot has modified since however Meunier and Courtois had been amongst seven gamers throughout each groups to start that day in Lille for this duel throughout the border in Leuven.


For Wales, Gareth Bale and Joe Allen had been the one survivors however the latter was pressured off with a hamstring harm after seven minutes. So it was over to Bale encourage a youthful Wales crew and the way he delivered.

Joe Morrell, who changed Allen, nipped in to forestall Lukaku stealing possession and located Chris Mepham, who scooped the ball into Wilson on midway. Wales streamed ahead down the correct, with Bale selecting out Connor Roberts on the overlap, flicking the ball into his path with the skin of his left boot and three divine touches later, together with one other luxurious Bale move, Wilson swept the ball into the far nook to crown an impressive counterattack.

Harry Wilson gives Wales a short-lived lead against Belgium

Harry Wilson offers Wales a short-lived lead in opposition to Belgium. {Photograph}: PA Wire/Belga/PA

The warning indicators, unsurprisingly, stemmed from De Bruyne. The Manchester Metropolis midfielder despatched a blistering cross into the six-yard field from the correct, just for Lukaku to spoon over however then De Bruyne took issues into his personal arms. Hazard fizzed the ball infield to De Bruyne, who set himself along with his first contact after which lashed a thunderous right-footed shot into the nook along with his second. Belgium started to stretch their legs and 6 minutes later Hazard helped Roberto Martínez’s aspect to take the lead.

Meunier’s hanging cross looped in the direction of the again submit and Roberts’s premature slip allowed Hazard a free header at aim, which he despatched into the underside nook.

For the fourth successive recreation it was all the way down to the previous Wales defender Robert Web page and Albert Stuivenberg, considered one of Mikel Arteta’s assistants at Arsenal, to guide the crew within the continued absence of Giggs. On the face of it the supervisor, who’s on bail till Might having denied allegations of assault and precise bodily hurt, seems far eliminated however continues to affect crew choice and is in every day dialogue along with his teaching employees.

Wales returned reinvigorated after the break. Bale was the ringleader and the on-loan Tottenham ahead afforded himself a wry smile after trying to drag Wales stage with an overhead kick.

Daniel James did fantastically to maintain Roberts’s cross alive on the again submit, hooking the ball again throughout aim, however Bale’s acrobatics had been in useless as he didn’t make clear contact. Wales operated with out a striker per se – Wilson performed as a false 9 earlier than being changed by Tyler Roberts with half an hour to play. James flashed a shot vast and, on the different finish De Bruyne, rattled the aspect netting as Belgium sought to kill the sport.

Wales gifted Belgium an opportunity to seal the turnaround when Mepham clumsily upended Dries Mertens within the field, leaving the referee Cuneyt Cakir no alternative however to award a penalty. Danny Ward didn’t claw a Meunier cross to security and Mepham panicked, wildly swinging a leg at Mertens. Lukaku despatched Ward, once more most well-liked to Wayne Hennessey in aim, the flawed approach and Belgium had efficiently punctured all of Wales’s early optimism.

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