De Bruyne, Batshuayi scores to keep Wales last

De Bruyne, Batshuayi scores to keep Wales last

Wales’ penultimate game before the World Cup ended in a 2-1 Nations League defeat to Belgium in Brussels.

Kevin De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi rewarded Belgium’s dominance in the first half with well-scored goals and Wales looked like they could hide.

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But Kieffer Moore halved the gap five minutes after half-time and Robert Page’s side produced a much improved performance in the second half to offer encouragement two months before the World Cup in Qatar.

Wales will play the last Nations League game at home against Poland on Sunday with their hopes of survival intact.

Poland’s 2-0 home defeat to the Netherlands means that bottom-ranked Wales can overtake Cardiff with a win and remain in the top flight of European football.

Wales had been upset by injuries with Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies, Harry Wilson and Joe Allen all missing out.

Skipper Gareth Bale was among the substitutes after his late arrival at the camp from the United States on Tuesday.

Bale, who is slowly improving his fitness in the United States ahead of the World Cup, had played for Los Angeles FC in the early hours of Monday morning UK time.

This was the ninth match between the two countries in the last decade, with Wales holding their own with two wins, two losses and four draws during that period.

De Bruyne had said before the game that he was so tired of playing so much for Wales but the Manchester City midfielder didn’t show it because he produced a masterful performance.

Brennan Johnson had scored a late draw when the teams met in Cardiff three months ago, and the Nottingham Forest winger formed a three-pronged bout alongside Moore and Daniel James.

Belgium had seven starters in the team that lost to Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, including De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and skipper Eden Hazard.

Wales started with confidence but fell behind after 10 minutes when Batshuayi’s cross found De Bruyne casually passing Wayne Hennessey, who put a hand on the shot.

Youri Tielemans and Hazard were within inches of doubling and De Bruyne, enjoying the generous space he was given, threw a shot at a post.

De Bruyne quickly prepares Belgium’s second goal after 37 minutes, shooting a defender superbly and crosses for Batshuayi who transforms the simplest of tap-ins.

There was a brief respite for Wales when Joe Rodon came close and Courtois parried Ethan Ampadu’s next header.

But Wales were only spared when Hennessey’s outstretched leg pushed another De Bruyne shot around a post.

Wales returned to the game with a goal out of nowhere.

Johnson spun and turned to the Belgium area with a maddening 40-yard run, and Moore climbed to the far post to head home with his cross in style.

Wales sent over Bale shortly after the hour and immediately jumped into action, encountering a cross from James which was deflected.

Belgium received a penalty for a foul on De Bruyne. But replays showed Joe Morrell had made contact with the ball and the decision was overturned on the VAR review.


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