Jack Grealish was one of the very few positives for England while Romelu Lukaku impressed for Belgium as they won 2-0 in the UEFA Nations League.

It was a fast start to the game at the King Power Stadion in Leuven, as Youri Tielemans put Belgium ahead in just ten minutes, with a long-range deflected effort. England had a couple of chances to strike back immediately through Jack Grealish, whose effort was blocked, while Harry Kane saw his header cleared off the line by Romelu Lukaku.

However, it was the hosts that once again found the net, as Dries Mertens hit a fine free-kick midway through the first half to send Belgium two goals up. England continued to try and find a way back into the game, with Mason Mount coming close on a couple of occasions.

Lukaku drew a sharp save from Jordan Pickford late as the game ended 2-0 in favour of the Red Devils, with Gareth Southgate’s men set to miss out on another appearance in the finals of the UEFA Nations League. Here’s how The Hard Tackle rated the performances of players from both teams.

Belgium

Thibaut Courtois: 6/10

Needed Lukaku to clear a goal-bound effort on the line early in the game before stopping Kane from scoring at 2-0. Apart from that one moment, the Belgian shot-stopper enjoyed a comfortable outing, with England not really testing him with efforts on goal. Will take the clean sheet on his first appearance in this edition of the Nations League.

Toby Alderweireld: 7/10

A rock at the back for Belgium, the Tottenham Hotspur defender produced vital blocks to deny Jack Grealish and England a way back into the back in the first half. Completed two tackles, made two clearances and an interception to cap off an impressive display at the back.

Jason Denayer: 7/10

Had a difficult time dealing with the movement of Harry Kane but the defender rose to the occasion and ensured that Courtois wasn’t called into action by the visitors. Ended the game with the highest number of successful tackles (4) and the second-most interceptions (3), while misplacing just four of his attempted 55 passes.

Jan Vertonghen: 7/10

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Preferred over Dedryck Boyata, the seasoned campaigner did well to deal with the movement of England’s wide attackers, with his sharp positioning and reading of the game. Made two clearances and an interception on the night.

Thomas Meunier: 6/10

Defensively reliable as he went up against an in-form Ben Chilwell, but that meant he had to curb his natural attacking instincts. Booked and could have been sent off after he committed a number of fouls in the second period.

Axel Witsel: 7/10

Carried his form from club level, as the Borussia Dortmund man acted as an effective shield to the Belgium backline in the centre of the park. Strong in his challenges, Witsel broke up play well and also made himself available as a passing option for his teammates every time.

Youri Tielemans: 8/10

Got the opening goal for Belgium with a well-hit effort from distance, although the deflection helped. Worked hard in the centre of the park all game long to keep the visitors at bay. Ended with a match-high four interceptions, made three clearances while attempting five tackles.

Thorgan Hazard: 6/10

Didn’t always look comfortable playing in the wing-back position, but had a fairly straightforward outing with no mishaps that hurt his team.

Kevin De Bruyne: 6/10

Not as involved as he usually is, as the Belgian playmaker flitted in and out of the game. There were a few eye-catching cross-field balls, but misplaced 12 of his attempted 42 passes on the night, while playing just the one key pass. Capable of much better.

Dries Mertens: 6.5/10

Gave Belgium a two-goal cushion with a very well-taken free-kick midway through the first period. Not involved a great deal apart from that one moment, however.

Romelu Lukaku: 8/10

A starring, all-action display from the Belgian centre-forward. Excellent hold-up play throughout as he linked up with the attacking midfielders very effectively. One such moment led to the opening goal, with Lukaku getting the assist for Tielemans’ strike.

Popped up at the other end soon after to make a vital clearance off the line and deny Kane an equaliser. Continued to work hard throughout and drew a sharp save from Pickford late in the game.

Substitutes

Dennis Praet: N/A

Replaced Mertens in the 83rd minute. Not enough time on the pitch to warrant a rating.

England

Jordan Pickford: 6/10

Under the scanner after his poor form at club level, the England No. 1 couldn’t do anything to stop either of Belgium’s goals on the night. Did well to deny Lukaku in the final stages of the game though.

Kyle Walker: 6/10

A decent showing from the Manchester City man, who used his pace well to make recovery runs, while he also showed good intent to push forward from the defence, especially in the second half.

Eric Dier: 4/10

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Survived an injury scare in pre-match warm-ups to start here but was sloppy in possession. Gave the ball away to former club teammate Jan Vertonghen in the lead-up to Tielemans’ opening goal. Almost had a repeat of the moment soon after. Did improve post the half-time break although he was beaten all ends up by Lukaku late on.

Tyrone Mings: 6/10

Retained in the side following the victory against the Republic of Ireland, it was Mings who got an unfortunate deflection on Tielemans’ shot for the opening goal. Mostly secure at the back, while being assured on the ball. Signs of promise.

Kieran Trippier: 6.5/10

Starting as the right-sided wing-back, Trippier got forward to good effect, playing in some dangerous crosses, one of which led to a chance for Grealish. Had to be taken off in the second half after he seemed to pick up a nasty facial injury following an accidental clash with Hazard. Made three key passes on the night.

Jordan Henderson: 5/10

Worked hard off the ball to try and recover possession in the centre of the park. However, was often too safe and passive with his distribution, although he wasn’t aided by the lack of movement in front of him. Taken off at half-time, with Southgate confirming that the Liverpool captain has picked up an injury.

Declan Rice: 6/10

Unlucky to have given away the free-kick for Belgium’s second as he clearly won the ball. Otherwise, stuck to his task well in the middle, ending the game with two out of three tackles completed and a match-high four interceptions.

Ben Chilwell: 5/10

A frustrating outing for the Chelsea man, who couldn’t really impact the proceedings much before being hooked off prior to half-time due to an injury.

Mason Mount: 6/10

A bright spark in the right-side channel, as he was involved quite a lot and got into dangerous positions regularly. However, should have done better with the chances he had in the first half, firing over the bar from a Grealish cross before heading wide from a corner.

Jack Grealish: 8/10

By far the standout performer for the Three Lions on the night. Was a serious threat to the hosts each time he got on the ball, which led to him being fouled frequently by Belgium. Still managed to create a few chances for his teammates, while also having a couple of goal-bound efforts blocked. Ended the game with four successful dribbles and two key passes.

Harry Kane: 7/10

Making his 50th appearance for the England national team, the Three Lions’ skipper was a lively customer at the top. Almost managed to equalise soon after Tielemans’ goal, but Lukaku’s off-the-line clearance denied him. Had another shot saved by Courtois before half-time.

Made a number of good runs and had a couple of half-chances in the second period but couldn’t capitalise. Nevertheless, an impressive performance from Kane, who attempted (8) and completed (6) the most number of dribbles on the night.

Substitutes

Bukayo Saka: 6.5/10

Replaced the injured Chilwell in the first period. Was much more involved than the man he came in for, getting forward well and putting in a couple of dangerous crosses.

Harry Winks: 5/10

Came on for Henderson at half-time, but failed to add any sort of creativity or forward impetus despite Belgium dropping off in the second period.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: 5/10

Thrown on in place of Mount with twenty minutes left to try and change things up at the top. However, couldn’t alter the course of the game.

Jadon Sancho: 5/10

Replaced Trippier in the 70th minute. Had a good chance but he chose to cross when he could have taken a shot at goal.

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