Belgium took revenge on Wales for starting the World Cup qualifiers Photo: AP
Belgium took revenge on Wales for a shocking exit in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals by coming in from behind to start their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a winning start with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday.
Kevin De Bruyne, Thorgan Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were targeted by the top-ranked world team in Leuven after Harry Wilson put the guests ahead.
Wales is again under the control of Robert Page this month, and manager Ryan Giggs is on leave until the charge of the attack is investigated.
The former Manchester United star was arrested in November after a reporter had an argument with his girlfriend.
Giggs denies the charges of assault and his bail was extended until May 1 last month.
He was also in charge of the victories over Ireland and Finland to ensure promotion to the highest rank of the League of Nations in November, but the Belgian series of stars proved to be a much more difficult test.
Wales still got off to a better start and continued thanks to a brilliant team goal in the 11th minute.
Gareth Bale admitted this week that one of his main motives for joining Tottenham on loan from Real Madrid was to prepare for the Euro 2020 match.
Bale’s sharpness thanks to much more time over the past month has been shown as he combined with Daniel James and then played at Wilson to reliably pass by Thibaut Courtois.
“Obviously it was great to score an early goal. We felt like we were well placed and our game plan was going well, but I guess a few small sloppy mistakes brought them back,” Bale said.
“We know they’re a great team, they have great players, and when you make a mistake you get penalized.”
De Bruyne then took center stage because Lukaku was to bury his cross.
The Manchester City midfielder was far more precise in the 22nd minute when he shot off the post.
Wales was unlucky because of Belgium, six minutes later, when Connor Roberts slipped, allowing Hazard a simple header from Thomas Meunier’s cross.
The chance was harder for both sides after half time, but Belgium was given a chance to secure three points when Chris Mepham tripped Dries Mertens while Napoli striker threw on a loose ball in the penalty area.
Lukaku sent Danny Ward from the scene on the wrong track to take Belgium’s record score of 58 goals in 90 caps.
Wales has a break from competitive action on Saturday when it hosts Mexico in a friendly match ahead of a crucial clash against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, between what is likely to be a two-side battle for second place in Group E.
The Czechs were 6-2 winners on the road in Estonia, and the following Saturday they faced Belgium in Prague.