Belgium put Boys in Green to the sword

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Belgium produced a ruthless second-half performance as they cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in a crucial Group E clash in Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon.

  • Belgium 3 Republic of Ireland 0
  • Hoolahan heads Alderweireld effort off the line
  • First half ends in 0-0 stalemate
  • Lukaku fires Red Devils ahead on 48 mins
  • Witsel doubles Belgium’s advantage
  • Lukaku doubles his tally

Match summary

After a goalless first half in which the Red Devils dominated possession and goal attempts, the match sprang to life just three minutes into the second half when Romelu Lukaku opened his Euro 2016 account.

Axel Witsel headed home just after the hour mark to double their advantage, before Lukaku added his second of the game with 20 minutes remaining.

The win sees Belgium move off the foot of Group E and up to second place on three points, while the Republic of Ireland drop down to the bottom place with a goal difference of minus 3.

Full report

The first half was a one-sided affair, with the impressive Kevin de Bruyne running the show for Belgium as the Republic of Ireland were forced to defend for lengthy passages of play.

In fact, it was essentially one-way traffic as the Red Devils bossed possession and attempts on goal without managing to make their chances count.

After a cautious start to the contest, the first chance of the game eventually arrived in the 13th minute, Toby Alderweireld glancing a headed effort wide of the mark following De Bruyne’s inviting cross into the danger area.

Belgium again went close on 21 minutes, captain Eden Hazard lashing a powerful effort over the bar from the left-hand side of the box after the Boys in Green had failed to clear their lines.

The Republic of Ireland were let off the hook again just three minutes later as Yannick Carrasco forced Darren Randolph into a brilliant save. Carrasco was first to the rebound and nodded the ball over the line, but the goal was chalked off as the Atletico Madrid man was in an offside position when he initially collected the ball at the start of the move.

Martin O’Neill’s men eventually lodge their first effort on goal in the 32nd minute, but Ciaran Clark headed wide of the mark after latching onto Robbie Brady’s long pass.

Belgium continued to pile on the pressure, but couldn’t find the all-important breakthrough. Thomas Meunier headed wide on 36 minutes, before Wes Hoolahan headed Toby Alderweireld’s goal-bound effort off the line on the stroke of half-time.

It was certainly a frustrating opening 45 minutes for Belgium, although there was thankfully a marked improvement in front of goal after the break.

The deadlock was broken just three minutes into the second stanza, Romelu Lukaku playing a neat one-two with De Bruyne before firing a curling effort into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.

They had a good chance to double their lead in the 55th minute, but Witsel fired straight into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

However, Witsel made amends for that squandered chance just six minutes later as he shrugged clear of his marker to head home from Meunier’s curling cross.

There was more to come from Belgium, though, with De Bruyne firing a left-footed drive over the crossbar, before Lukaku netted his second of the match after being played through on goal by Hazard.

And they twice went close to adding a fourth in the remaining minutes, with substitute Dries Mertens dragging a shot wide and De Bruyne shooting straight at Randolph once again on 84 minutes.

Republic of Ireland had a rare chance to pull one back with five minutes left on the clock, but James McClean’s 30-yard free-kick flew harmlessly wide of the mark.

They had one last chance to reduce the deficit in the second minute of injury time, but it again went to waste as substitute Aiden McGeady’s header flew wide of the left-hand post.