Wales held Belgium to a 1-1 draw to secure the runners-up spot in Group E of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers and a seeding in the playoff draw.

Kevin De Bruyne’s masterful first-half strike was cancelled out by a planted low shot from Kieffer Moore in the final Group E clash of the World Cup Qualifiers. Belgium booked a ticket to Qatar as group winners, while second-placed Wales assured being seeded in the draw for the playoffs next Friday in Zurich.

Having already secured a spot in the playoffs for next March thanks to their UEFA Nations League performances, wrapping up second place in the group implies that Robert Page’s side may earn a more favourable semi-final home draw.

The Red Devils made a promising start to the game, dominating the ball and clamping down on a nervous Wales side. The proactive approach paid off after just 12 minutes into the first half when Kevin De Bruyne curled a canny shot into the bottom-right corner past an off-balance Danny Ward to put Belgium in front.

Kieffer Moore equalised 13 minutes before the break with an exquisite snapshot from inside the box, capitalising on an error by defender Arthur Theate, who could not clear the lines from a cross by Daniel James. It became an end-to-end contest for the rest of the first half, with Dedryck Boyata and Thorgan Hazard coming close to scoring.

However, the tide turned in the second half with Wales more than matching Belgium; Neco Williams appeared to have won it for Wales when he skipped inside and launched a breathtaking attempt into the far corner, only for Koen Casteels to bail Belgium out with another superb save.

A late Belgium onslaught was held firm by spirited defending from the Welsh side. Taking into account that Roberto Martinez deployed a heavily rotated lineup, it was a decent display from Belgium. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over Martinez’s men.

Koen Casteels: 6/10

Casteels had a pretty busy night between the sticks as Wales stormed into the Belgian box on multiple occasions during the game, particularly on counter-attacks. His best saves came late in the second half when he stopped Neco Williams’s long-range shot.

Timothy Castagne: 6/10

Castagne had an uneventful evening. Nonetheless, the Leicester City defender could have done a much better job at clearing his lines in the build-up to the equaliser, although he was playing in an unfavourable centre-back position. Castagne looked confident in possession and aided Belgium’s build-up play.

Dedryck Boyata: 7/10

Boyata was arguably Belgium’s best defender on the day, displaying excellent defensive acumen. The centre-back made a number of crunch blocks and interceptions to keep his team in the game, particularly in the second half when Wales were chasing a late winner. Moreover, he also contributed offensively with three shots and attempted a match-high 124 passes at 94.4% passing accuracy.

Arthur Theate: 6/10

It was a forgettable evening for Arthur Theate. He should have cleared his lines with more gust and was the culprit for Kieffer Moore’s goal. The centre-back made numerous mistakes and appeared shaky throughout the game.

Thomas Meunier: 6.5/10

Meunier was unable to provide the required dominance down the right flank. For much of the game, the full-back provided little at either end of the pitch. He looked rusty and lacked sharpness.

Axel Witsel: 6.5/10

The Borussia Dortmund enforcer delivered a mediocre performance. While he controlled the momentum of the game with comfort, he struggled to provide even the slightest spark of creativity in the attacking phases. Witsel finished with only one interception, two accurate long balls, and a match-high 98 per cent passing accuracy.

Hans Vanaken: 7/10

Vanaken put in another solid performance in the middle of the park, combining well with the Belgian forwards and initiating good plays. As usual, he picked out intriguing spaces to exploit while his off-the-ball movements were impressive.Β He was efficient with his passing, completed five successful long balls, and made a key pass.

Thorgan Hazard: 7/10

Hazard put in a hardworking performance for Belgium. He had some glaring moments despite missing out on a goal after a brilliant first-half effort that saw him hit the post from long-range. He completed 88 per cent of his passes, one accurate long ball, and created 2 key passes.

Kevin De Bruyne: 8/10

De Bruyne is still not at his best in regards to churning chances from open play. Nevertheless, he was class apart on the day and was probably the best attacking player on the pitch. The Manchester City ace was the star of the show, but at times it felt as if he was the only creative outlet for Belgium. Perhaps, leaving out an attacking midfielder in favour of a front-two did not work out well for Roberto Martinez & co.

Charles De Ketelaere: 6.5/10

Similar to his strike-partner Origi, Charles De Ketalaere struggled very much with lack of service. The youngster looked right at home while he was on the ball. However, he tried to make things happen, which resulted in him losing possession.

Divock Origi: 6/10

Origi made a few good drives between the two centre-halves, but his poor decision-making regularly let him and his teammates down. He fired a few audacious long-range shots wide. Aside from that, he failed to hold onto the ball for the majority of the game. Overall he was particularly quiet and was unable to make an impact.


Leander Dendoncker: 6/10

Dendoncker came in as a substitute on the 59th minute to replace Timothy Castagne. For the most part, he appeared calm and composed, with the exception being when he rashly fouled Daniel James to halt a blistering counter-attack.

Alexis Saelemaekers: 6/10

Saelemaekers was impressive after coming off the bench in the 58th minute to replace Charles De Ketelaere. The midfielder twirled away from onrushing Welsh players and looked lively late in the game for Belgium.

Dante Vanzeir: 6/10

Vanzeir arrived on the 59th minute in place of Origi but failed to create chances for himself.

Leandro Trossard: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Jan Vertonghen: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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