BELGIUM 3-0 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Belgium secured their first win of the tournament against Ireland.
Belgium, who had been pushed down to the bottom of Group E after a defeat by Italy, made three changes with Laurent Ciman, Marouane Fellaini and Radja Nainggolan replaced by Thomas Meunier, Mousa Dembele and Yannick Carrasco.
Of the three Liverpool players in the Belgium squad, only Christian Benteke would come off the substitute bench to make an appearance for his country this time. So far, there hasn’t been a single game of the tournament where all three players were on the pitch at the same time. Both Benteke and Origi have seen a bit of action for their country but Mignolet hasn’t played a single minute yet as manager Mark Wilmots has chosen Thibaut Courtois as goalkeeper at every given opportunity, not even substituting him off when Belgium were losing.
The first half seemed rather equal, with both sides making chances to push forward and attempt to score. In fact, by the half time break, Belgium seemed to be the more frustrated side and Ireland looked set to at least get a goalless draw if they could stay as strong in defence as they had for the first 45 minutes of the game. That would have seen them claim a single point at least. I don’t know exactly what Mark Wilmots said to his team during the break but if it wasn’t something like “we should have scored already, go out there and get a goal” I’d be surprised. They would do just that, though.
About 3 minutes into the second half, Kevin De Bruyne made a critical run down the right hand side of the pitch. De Bruyne would then eventually whip in an important cross that found Everton striker Romelu Lukaku who would take his chance to shoot and score from 25 yard out. Great assist and great finish. Belgium take the lead. Belgium 1-0 Ireland
Ireland hadn’t given up the fight, attacks still kept coming from them as they knew they would have to get a goal of their own if they wanted even a draw now that they couldn’t just keep defending for a goalless draw.
Just after the hour mark, Belgium would run another important piece of attacking that would result in a goal for them.
Thomas Meunier was deep in Ireland’s defensive territory and made himself enough space to send in a cross to Alex Witsel who had been waiting in a dangerous position to head the ball past the Ireland goalkeeper (Randall) and into the net for Belgium’s second goal. Belgium 2-0 Ireland.
The game continued and Belgium had only to play out the rest of the game, Ireland were only really making themselves weaker as any attack they had (which had to happen if they were to get the goals they needed badly) was counter attacked by their opponents, who weren’t content with just two goals.
It would in fact be a counter attack that brought Belgium their third goal of the game, securing the victory for them – if it was ever in doubt after the second goal that they’d win.
Hazard make a quick run forward and takes the ball with him into the penalty area. He keeps pushing himself into a more and more dangerous position, eventually drawing the lone Ireland defender before rolling the ball across to Lukaku, who is in lots of space in a dangerous position. The Everton striker picks his spot, and accurately placed the ball into the bottom corner of Ireland’s net. It’s all over now. Twenty minutes left to play, but the game ended here for Ireland. Belgium 3-0 Ireland.
Just past 80 minutes, Mark Wilmots would decided to take off his “star striker” Lukaku and would replace the Everton player who had scored twice with a Liverpool player – Christian Benteke. He didn’t have long to prove himself, but was still seen attacking Ireland’s goal before the game ended, even if he couldn’t score a fourth.
Belgium pushed themselves up to second place in their group as teams continue to fight for qualification to the knockout stages. They only have Sweden left to play after a defeat to Italy and a win against Ireland. Sweden will be forced to get a win against Belgium if they seek to claim 2nd place and Belgium are the only team that can challenge Italy for first place, but Ireland would have to beat Italy for that to happen as if they gain even a single point, they’ll stay at the top of the group even if Belgium did get their win against Sweden. A draw against Sweden would more than likely still see Belgium keep second place, unless Ireland were to score several (at least 4 without conceding) goals against Italy and push their goal difference up significantly. No disrespect to Ireland, but this is unlikely to happen though.
Well, that’s all for now but we’ll be back again with more news on the Euro 2016 tournament and the Liverpool players in it.
You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s