Belgium v Wales: Nations League – live | Nations League

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Key events

18 min: That goal has understandably taken a bit of the wind from the Welsh sail. Shame, they’d started so well. “As brilliant as KDB is, that was the attempted save of a keeper who hasn’t played much this season say the S4C comms team,” reports Phillip Wainwright. “Must admit I agree.”

16 min: A long ball down the middle nearly opens Wales up. Batshuayi looks to have sprinted clear of Norrington-Davies, but the Welsh midfielder fights back and gets a block in, just in time.

15 min: So nearly a second for the hosts. Carrasco turns Roberts inside out down the left and crosses low for Tielemans, who nearly steers the ball into the bottom-right corner again. This time the ball shaves the outside of the post. “Dammit,” cries Matt Dony. “All Wales for ten minutes. One Belgian attack, and they score. Typical. Still, plenty of time for a Hal Robson-Kanu moment…”

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13 min: Wales try to respond through Williams, sent scampering down the left by Moore. The resulting cross floats harmlessly out of play for a goal kick.

12 min: Hennessey got a hand to that, but couldn’t stop it. Fierce yet forensic. De Bruyne is such a class act, like that’s breaking news.

GOAL! Belgium 1-0 Wales (De Bruyne 10)

Well, scrub that. Belgium hog the ball for a bit. They patiently stroke it around, this way and that. Suddenly Batshuayi tears down the right flank. He’s got Meunier racing by his side on the overlap, but instead cuts back for De Bruyne, who adjusts his body and steers a powerful sidefoot into the bottom right from the edge of the box. Sensational finish! He’s not bored now!

8 min: Roberts throws long from the right. Moore wins a flick on, but there’s nobody in white to take advantage. Courtois claims. Wales will be more than happy with the way these first few minutes have gone.

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7 min: A chance for Carrasco to release De Bruyne down the left. His pass is too heavy, allowing Roberts to come across and play the ball off the Manchester City man and out for a goal kick. De Bruyne fumes quietly. Or perhaps he’s just bored.

6 min: Belgium take a little of the sting out of things with some sterile possession at the back.

4 min: Tielemans, perhaps low on confidence given Leicester’s troubles, ships possession with absurd ease in the centre circle. Johnson races off with attacking intent, only for the Welsh counter to be stopped in its tracks by the whistle because there are two balls on the pitch. Rob Page is not happy.

2 min: A fast start by Wales sees Williams cross deep from the left, then Johnson return the favour from the right. Neither delivery is of the required quality, but the early signs are that Wales have come here to give it a go.

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8 seconds: Moore sticks his elbow into Vertonghen’s jaw and is pretty lucky not to go into the book. An early calling card.

After both teams take the knee in a gesture of solidarity against discrimination, Wales get the ball rolling. A bit more noise coming from the crowd now, to be fair.

The teams are out! Belgium wear red, forcing Wales into second-choice white. The King Baudouin Stadium isn’t filled to capacity, far from it, and so the atmosphere is slightly lacking, though the Welsh travelling support are doing their bit by giving it plenty. We’ll be off after the anthems. Enough time for Mary Waltz to set a poser: “How can it be that Belgium, with all that amazing talent, has underperformed so consistently?” No idea, Mary, sorry.

Roberto Martinez.
Roberto Martinez. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Rob Page speaks to S4C. “We’ve gone as strong as we possibly could. It would be too much of a risk to play Gareth Bale from the start. No doubt he’ll play some part tonight, but it would have been crazy to play him from the start. We’re up against good opposition, and we’re prepared for a tough battle. It’s all about this game. They want to finish top of the group, we want to stay in the division, so there’s everything to play for.”

Gareth Bale, currently in the process of increasing his match fitness with Los Angeles FC, starts this one on the bench. Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey takes the captain’s armband. Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, Harry Wilson and Joe Allen are all missing through injury.

In other superstar news, Kevin De Bruyne starts for Belgium, while Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard captains the side. Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans also starts.

Bale in action in LA (admittedly throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the LA Dodgers play the Minnesota Twins, but action is action).
Bale in action in LA (admittedly throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the LA Dodgers play the Minnesota Twins, but action is action). Photograph: Gary A Vasquez/USA Today Sports

The teams

Belgium: Courtois, Debast, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Carrasco, De Bruyne, Batshuayi, Hazard.
Subs: Mignolet, Casteels, Theate, Openda, Mertens, De Ketelaere, Trossard, Onana, Dendoncker, Vanaken, Castagne, Saelemaekers.

Wales: Hennessey, C Roberts, Rodon, Mepham, N Williams, Smith, Ampadu, Norrington-Davies, James, Moore, Johnson.
Subs: Ward, King, Gunter, Cabango, Levitt, T Roberts, Bale, Morrell, J Williams, Harris, Thomas, Harris.

Referee: Ali Palabıyık (Turkey).

Preamble

Wales’s A4 Nations League campaign took an understandable back seat to their World Cup qualifying bid. Robert Page and his Qatar-bound men wouldn’t change a thing, but as a result relegation from the top tier of Uefa’s shiny new tournament looks more likely than not. If they’re not to go down, they’ll need to at least one win from their last two matches, two if Poland beat the Netherlands tonight. Small problem: Wales have never beaten Belgium on their own pitch, and since knocking them out of Euro 2016, are winless in three against the world number two side, losing on their last visit 3-1 in 2021. Big game coming up, then; just as well Wales have developed a habit of turning up for them. Kick off is at 7.45pm BST. It’s on!

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