A Kevin De Bruyne show helped Belgium beat Wales 2-1 in the UEFA Nations League on Thursday.
Belgium looked full of intent from the very first moment, and they eventually ran out 2-1 winners in this very crucial game against Wales. Kevin De Bruyne scored the opener and helped Michy Batshuayi net the second, with Wales’s next game emerging as potentially a relegation decider, following the Netherlands’ win over Poland.
Despite a slow start, Belgium struck gold early on. Batshuayi’s brilliantly-weighted pass found De Bruyne on the edge of Wales’s box. The Manchester City playmaker’s precise finish proved to be too much for Wayne Hennessey, who could not control it despite getting a finger to the ball.
De Bruyne was all over the pitch in the first half as he looked determined to let the ball play on his behalf. The 31-year-old’s thunderbolt jolted the post, and he then returned back the favour to Batshuayi a few moments later. The midfielder battled through to the area and teed off the striker with a delightful ball. Batshuayi had to do nothing but tap it in to double Belgium’s lead.
Wales came back with all their resources after the break, and the result was pretty evident as Kieffer Moore headed in Brennan Johnson’s cross from the right wing to reduce the deficit. The hosts thought they were about to seal a stamp on their authority when the referee pointed to the spot after De Bruyne appeared to be fouled by Joe Morrell inside the box.
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) September 22, 2022
But with the assistance of the Video Assistance Referee, the penalty shout was reviewed, and it was called off as Morrell was seen legally challenging the ball. The win turned sour as Roberto Martinez was given his marching orders for an argument. The Red Devils will now fight with the Netherlands in the penultimate game for the top spot in Group A4. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Martinez’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
The Real Madrid shot-stopper was pretty alert and palmed away a number of advancing balls to keep his team in the game. He was not at fault for Wales’s goal.
Thomas Meunier: 6/10
Meunier was lively with his forward runs and started the move for the first goal as his perfect pass found Batshuayi who later fed it to Kevin De Bruyne for the first goal.
Toby Alderweireld: 6/10
Alderweireld was caught in two minds a number of times but dealt with the pressure well. Wales took up the charge in the second half, but the backline held the shape very well to deny them any chance.
Zeno Debast: 6/10
A very impressive debut for the 18-year-old against a competitive side, and Belgium could be on the verge of getting another good pair of feet. The Anderlecht ace took a while to settle in but it was smooth sailing for the young defender.
Jan Vertonghen: 6/10
Vertonghen complemented the other two defenders well and often surged ahead to join the attack.
Yannick Carrasco: 6.5/10
Carrasco was a constant threat on the left flank as he utilised the perks of being a winger by instinct. Wales defender Chris Mepham had a tough time dealing with him.
Youri Tielemans: 7/10
Tielemans had an eventful evening in the middle of the pitch as he played some delightful long and short passes in the game to help Belgium remain in control.
Axel Witsel: 6/10
Witsel closed the gap in the midfield in his usual behaviour and did not lead any harm to his side.
Kevin De Bruyne: 8.5/10
Kevin De Bruyne's game by numbers vs. Wales:
◉ Most shots (5)
◉ Most shots on target (3)
◉ Most chances created (7)
◎ 83 touches
◎ 6 crosses
◎ 2 aerial duels won
◎ 2 tackles made
◎ 1 assist
◎ 1 goal
KDBoring. 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/eYPwyUhyOJ
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 22, 2022
De Bruyne ran the show single-handedly as he was involved in both the goals. The experienced midfielder started the game in an advanced role and worked tirelessly like a well-oiled machine.
Michy Batshuayi: 7/10
Batshuayi provided the assist for the first goal and was well positioned when De Bruyne delivered a superb ball towards the goal. He might give Romelu Lukaku a run for his money heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Eden Hazard: 7/10
Hazard looked his usual self, as the Real Madrid winger cut back in and tried to curl past Wales’s goalkeeper a number of times. A fit and hungry Hazard is always dangerous.
Leandro Trossard: 6.5/10
The Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder shined in a small cameo as he ran at the Wales defence a number of times after coming on. He deserves more time in the playing eleven.
Lois Openda: 6/10
Had very few things to do.
Dries Mertens: 6/10
Tried to play his role as he combined with his teammates well in the final third.
Hans Vanaken: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Charles De Ketelaere: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.