'Magical' De Bruyne leads Belgium to Nations League win over Wales - in pictures

Playmaker opened the scoring before teeing up Batshuayi in 2-1 victory in Brussels

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Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne scored one goal and set up another as they profited from a strong first-half showing to beat Wales 2-1 in their Nations League A Group 4 clash at the King Baudouin Stadium on Thursday.

Wales were fortunate not to be more than 2-0 down at the break after goals by De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi and several spurned chances, but the visitors halved the deficit early in the second period when Kieffer Moore headed in from close range.

Second-placed Belgium have 10 points from five matches and go to Amsterdam on Sunday. They must win by three goals to overtake the Netherlands, who have 13 points at the top of the group, and qualify for the Nations League semi-finals next year.

Wales have a home game against Poland on Sunday as they bid to avoid relegation from the pool. They are currently bottom with one point.

"I think we fully deserved to win, we dominated the first half and created a lot of chances," De Bruyne told S4C. "Wales were playing man to man so there were more options in the first half.

"Then we started the second half poorly, we had to keep the ball as Wales were playing so deep and wait for the right moments."

When De Bruyne netted after 10 minutes it stretched to 49 games Belgium’s incredible run of scoring, having last been kept out by France in the 2018 World Cup semi-final in St Petersburg.

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez said their trip to face the Netherlands is the perfect preparation for the World Cup because of the intense rivalry between the teams.

"If you were going to ask me which one will be the perfect game to prepare for World Cup, I would say play Holland because of the rivalry, because of what it means, because of the fans," Martinez told reporters.

"Play it away from home and play with the game that you have to have a real direction and real meaning in the score. And then from that point, let's see how we can finish this Nations League campaign."

Martinez also heaped praise on De Bruyne, saying his performance was "magical".

"I think this is a message to all our fans. Don't take for granted watching Kevin de Bruyne play," Martinez said.

"For me, he's the most incredible playmaker in world football at this present time."

Updated: September 23, 2022, 4:33 AM
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