A rejuvenated Belgium ran riot in Brussels as they brush aside Poland 6-1 in Wednesday’s UEFA Nations League..
The hosts were forced to come from behind to pick up their first win of the Nations League campaign, but four second half goals were more than enough to earn a huge three points, with Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard playing starring roles.
Belgium dominated the opening exchanges, with Eden Hazard missing a sitter after Michy Batshuayi’s shot had clattered the post, while the Besiktas striker then had a goal ruled out for offside.
It was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play though as Sebastian Szymanski’s clipped pass was brilliantly controlled by Robert Lewandowski, who then fired home his 76th international goal.
Poland sat back on their advantage, defending their 18-yard box superbly and limiting time on the ball for Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne. The latter was involved as the hosts equalised just before half-time though, with his shot pushed away by Bartlomiej Dragowski, only to fall to Timothy Castagne. He stabbed it back to Axel Witsel, and the midfielder brilliantly whipped a ferocious effort into the bottom corner from 20-yards.
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It looked like a matter of time before they took the lead for the first time, and the hosts duly obliged on 59-minutes when De Bruyne coolly clipped home from Hazard’s lay-off.
From then on, there was only going to be one winner, and Roberto Martinez’s side put the game to bed when substitute Leandro Trossard ran onto Batshuayi’s through ball, shuffled onto his left foot and fired home.
The Brighton star then grabbed the goal of the game on 80-minutes, curling into the far top corner from an incredibly tight angle, before Leander Dendoncker bagged his first international goal from 25-yards, arrowing a shot into the bottom corner.
Lois Openda added his name to the scoresheet in stoppage-time to complete the thrashing.
Meanwhile, Wales’ unbeaten home record under Rob Page was ended as they were defeated 2-1 by Netherlands in the Nations League.
There were no signs of a Wales hangover in the first half despite Sunday’s triumph, with the Dragons almost taking the lead through a Joe Rodon header on 20 minutes, while the Netherlands had no shots on target.
However, things turn quickly in football and just minutes after the start of the second half the Netherlands took the lead through Koopmeiners.
It looked like Rhys Norrington-Davies had rescued a point for Wales in added time, but a thumping header from Weghorst seconds later handed Netherlands all three points.
The victory sees Louis van Gaal’s side retain top spot in Group A4, while Wales are rooted at the bottom on zero points and play second-placed Belgium at the weekend.
In the other game, the Republic of Ireland’s miserable start to the Nations League continued as a much-changed Ukraine recovered from missing out on World Cup qualification to claim a narrow win in Dublin.
Having seen their World Cup dreams ended by Wales, Ukraine regrouped in impressive fashion with substitute Viktor Tsygankov’s fortuitous free-kick condemning the hosts to a second defeat in four days after Saturday’s shock reverse in Armenia.
Lastly, Anthony Ralston and Scott McKenna scored their first international goals as Scotland swept Armenia aside in their Nations League opener at Hampden.
A week on from the painful World Cup play-off defeat to Ukraine, Steve Clarke’s side were utterly dominant.
Headers from Ralston and McKenna made it 2-0 at halfway after Stuart Armstrong and Andy Robertson had gone close.
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