De Bruyne and Batshuayi help Belgium hold off Wales in Nations League


If this was Kevin De Bruyne when he is bored, then Belgium’s World Cup opponents would be right to quiver at the prospect of the damage he could inflict when he is in the mood. De Bruyne recently told how he had grown tired of playing Wales – this was Belgium’s ninth meeting with Wales in the past 10 years and the fourth in the past 18 months – but he scored a sumptuous goal and set up another for Michy Batshuayi to put them en route to a Nations League victory in Brussels. Wales, who rightly saw a VAR review for a second-half penalty go in their favour, were overwhelmed in the first half but were greatly improved in the second and hit back through Kieffer Moore. Brennan Johnson set up Moore for his header and finished the game strongly, pulling a shot wide with five minutes to play.

The Final Countdown blared over the speakers 15 minutes before kick-off and there is no escaping that for Wales all the focus is on Doha and their first World Cup in 64 years. With Gareth Bale starting on the bench after arriving into Cardiff on Tuesday fresh from playing for Los Angeles FC the previous day and Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Allen all missing through injury, Wales lined up without several key cogs. Romelu Lukaku was a notable absentee for Belgium and perhaps it should have been no surprise that they purred their way through a one-sided first half and fired like a well-oiled machine given seven of their starting lineup also began their Euro 2016 quarter-final defeat to Wales, with the goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey the sole survivor from that day. This Wales display was faraway from that upset.

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Nations League, Belgium, Wales, Football, Sport


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