Belgium v Ireland (Tactical Report)

Yannick Carrasco and Mousa Dembele replaced the duo of Marouane Fellaini and Radja Nainggolan, as the coach shifted to a classic 4-2-3-1 formation, in what looked like Belgium's best squad.

The third and final goal was again started by Meuneir, who dispossessed James McClean to free Eden Hazard. The Belgian captain skipped past a challenge and ran down the entire right flank before squaring one up for Lukaku.

After disappointing in its opener against Italy, the pressure was on Belgium's golden generation of footballers to come good against a resolute Republic of Ireland side that had managed a draw against Sweden in its first match.

Coach Marc Wilmots made three changes to the side that was beaten by Italy. Yannick Carrasco and Mousa Dembele replaced the duo of Marouane Fellaini and Radja Nainggolan, as the coach shifted to a classic 4-2-3-1 formation, in what looked like Belgium's best squad. In the Right-Back position Thomas Meunier was brought in for Laurent Ciman.

A game of two halves

Belgium swarmed Ireland's side of the football pitch in the first half of the match but struggled to find its first goal of the tournament. Kevin De Bruyne, back to his favoured role in the centre, was the stand-out performer, pulling the strings for the Red Devils from the midfield.

But Belgium began the second half with far more intent and found a break through when De Bruyne beat two defenders in the right flank to free striker Romelu Lukaku who comfortably slotted it past the Irish keeper Darren Randolph.

Pleasing in possession

The goal was exactly what Belgium had wanted. Suddenly its flair players were playing with more freedom and dominating in possession. The second goal was a true Belgium master-class — one that involved 28 uninterrupted passes (a record for the European Championships since 1980), the last of which was a first time early cross from the right by Muenier which was headed in by Axel Witsel.

The third and final goal was again started by Meuneir, who dispossessed James McClean to free Eden Hazard. The Belgian captain skipped past a challenge and ran down the entire right flank before squaring one up for Lukaku (see picture).

4-2-3-1 reaps award

We will never know the reason why Wimots opted to play Fellaini as a secondary striker against Italy which arguably has the best defence in EURO 2016.

Switching back to the traditional 4-2-3-1, a formation that has been strangely used by only a very few teams this EURO, freed up space in the wings for Hazard and Carrasco to exploit. Striker Lukaku thrives playing alone up front and with KDB being allowed to concentrate more on attack, with sturdy custodians Witsel and Dembele sitting back to protect the back line, the attack was always going to be lethal. Right-back Meuneir also had an outstanding night being involved directly in two goals. Belgium finally looks like a side that can go all the way to the final.