If this was Kevin De Bruyne when he was bored, then Belgium’s World Cup opponent would be right to shiver at the prospect of the damage he could do when in the mood.
De Bruyne recently told how tired he was of Wales playing – this was the ninth meeting between these two teams in the past 10 years and the fourth in the last 18 months – but he scored a brilliant goal and set up another for Michy Batshuayi. them on their way to The League of Nations win over.
Things looked ominous Wales In the intervening Belgium, she should have been out of sight; De Bruyne fired a shot at the wood, Youri Tielemans veered away, Eden Hazard curled a shot past one pole and Batshuayi fired another over it.
But if anything reflects how sluggish things are in Belgium, it was the spectacle of Roberto Martinez, one of the game’s quietest and most irritated characters, receiving the first red card of his managerial career after wasting time.
“It’s a new experience,” Martinez said. “I was surprised. I should have let the ball go and that’s it but the moment I kicked the ball [away] …I accept the ruling’s decision.”
Indeed, Wales were fortunate to only track him down with two goals in the first half, but the way they responded should encourage them to take part in their first World Cup in 64 years. It was 60 days until kick-off in Doha against the USA and in the end, despite the downturn in the first half, there was no shortage of reasons for optimism. Brennan Johnson’s guts proved his gallantry was a motivating factor as Wales charted a path back into the match, sending in a cross from Kiefer Moore’s header and Johnson blasting a long shot five minutes before the end after capturing an off-kilter Conor Roberts.
“It’s a great lesson for us,” said Wales coach Rob Page, who turned 5-4-1 at the break. “Every time we did high pressure they played through us. We changed that in the first half and went a little deeper and changed the format.”
Gareth Bale arrived as a substitute in the 64th minute but Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Allen were missing through injury. Romelu Lukaku was a notable Belgium absentee, perhaps unsurprisingly they made their way through the first half unilaterally and shot like a well-equipped machine given that seven of their starting lineup also started the Euro 2016 quarter-final defeat to Wales, with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy The only survivor of that day.
Wales actually started superbly but found it difficult from the moment De Bruyne opened the scoring at 10 minutes, capping off Belgium’s superb move.
Thomas Meunier made a clever pass for the first time into the right channel of Batshuayi, whose left de Bruyne spied. What happened next felt joy, hatred and pain from Welles’s perspective. De Bruyne advanced towards the edge of the penalty area and hit a side ball for the first time on goal, pressing his effort past Hennessey, unable to block the ball into the corner. De Bruyne’s technical prowess didn’t end in problems, and his perfect passes towards the back post eight minutes before the break gave Batshuayi the ball.
Martinez was among those who left purring. “It’s a message to all of our fans: Don’t take this Kevin De Bruyne play for granted,” he said. “I think he is the most amazing playmaker in world football right now, his way of seeing the game, his understanding of time and place and then execution as well. I thought his performance was magical but he was doing it constantly. Sometimes I look at him and we are very lucky to have a player like Kevin” .
De Bruyne left to standing ovation during six minutes of second-half stoppage time, but those with Wales persuasion probably had other names on their lips, so Wales finished off the match strong. “It was a game of two halves,” Johnson said. “In the first half we lacked a lot of faith, we didn’t know how good we could be, especially what we could give going forward. We didn’t show any of that. In the second half we came out with a different mindset and we were proud of it. Rob Page told us to believe ourselves, to show The reason we’re here, and I think we’ve done it.”