Belgium 2-1 Wales: De Bruyne on target as Red Devils keep Nations League Finals hopes alive

Belgium 2-1 Wales: De Bruyne on target as Red Devils keep Nations League Finals hopes alive

Kevin De Bruyne was on target as Belgium kept their faint hopes of progressing to the Nations League Finals alive with a 2-1 victory over Wales.

De Bruyne opened the scoring and set up the second goal for Michy Batshuayi at the King Baudouin Stadium, as the Red Devils remained three points behind leaders Netherlands in Group A4.

Kieffer Moore pulled one back for Wales, but the Dragons must now beat Poland on Sunday to have any chance of avoiding relegation from League A.

The Red Devils, whose head coach Roberto Martinez was sent from the touchline for time-wasting, need an emphatic win over the Dutch when they meet on Sunday to reach the Finals.

Belgium took just 10 minutes to break through as De Bruyne applied a wonderful first-time finish to Batshuayi’s lay-off to the edge of the penalty area.

Youri Tielemans steered Yannick Carrasco’s cross off target and Batshuayi fired over from a tight angle as the Red Devils continued to dominate, while the woodwork denied De Bruyne a second goal as he rattled the post from 20 yards out.

Eden Hazard then curled narrowly wide before the hosts doubled their lead in the 37th minute. This time, De Bruyne was the provider; sweeping in a pinpoint cross for Batshuayi to touch home.

Ethan Ampadu called Thibaut Courtois into action with Wales’ first attempt on goal, while Wayne Hennessey denied De Bruyne at the other end.

The visitors halved the deficit within five minutes of the restart as Moore rose to head home Brennan Johnson’s inviting cross.

Rob Page introduced Gareth Bale in the 64th minute and the Los Angeles FC forward went close soon after; Toby Alderweireld deflecting his header over from Dan James’ centre.

VAR overturned a Belgian penalty later on, but the hosts held on for maximum points after Martinez was ordered from the touchline in stoppage time.


What does it mean? Belgium still in the hunt

Belgium can still progress to the Nations League finals after Thursday’s win in Brussels.

But following the Netherlands’ 2-0 success over Poland, the Red Devils must record at least a 4-1 victory over the Dutch in the Group A4 decider to dislodge them at the summit.

As for Wales, they must beat Poland by two goals to avoid relegation from League A.

De Bruyne instrumental once more

Once again, De Bruyne played a starring role for his side with another commanding display in the middle of the park.

The Manchester City midfielder found the back of the net and provided an assist, while he also recorded game-high tallies of key passes (seven), crosses (six), shots (five), and efforts on target (three).

Batshuayi continues impressive form

Though he recorded just 22 touches and 15 passes, Batshuayi maintained his rich vein of form on the international stage with another goal and assist.

The Fenerbahce striker has now been directly involved in seven goals (scored four, assisted three) in his last seven games for his country.

What’s next?

Both sides conclude their Nations League campaigns on Sunday. Belgium travel to the Netherlands for the Group A4 decider, with Wales hosting Poland in the battle to avoid relegation.

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