Nations League: Belgium eases to comfortable 2-0 win over England

A second successive defeat for England, after a home loss to Denmark, left it in third place in the group with one match to come at home to Iceland.

Belgium celebrates Tielemans' opening goal against England.   -  REUTERS

Early goals by Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens earned Belgium a comfortable 2-0 win over England to strengthen its grip on top spot in Group A2 while ending the visitor's hopes of reaching the Nations League Finals in Leuven on Sunday.

England had to win to put itself back in with a chance of winning the group, but Gareth Southgate's side found itself chasing the game after Tielemans put the host in front after 10 minutes.

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Harry Kane had an effort cleared off the line soon after but it got even worse for England when Mertens curled home a delightful free kick after 23 minutes.

Belgium, the world's top-ranked side, held on with few real alarms against an unimaginative England side which enjoyed plenty of possession without creating many clear chances.

Roberto Martinez's Belgium side must now only avoid defeat on Wednesday against Denmark, which beat Iceland 2-1, to win the group. A second successive defeat for England, after a home loss to Denmark, left it in third place in the group with one match to come at home to Iceland.

England was architects of its own downfall.

 

After 10 minutes a casual pass out from the back by Eric Dier was snaffled by Belgium and when the ball was played forward to Romelu Lukaku he squared it to Tielemans.

The Leicester City player's shot was well hit but skimmed off the leg of Tyrone Mings and although keeper Jordan Pickford got his fingertips to it, the ball went in off the post.

Jack Grealish went close to an immediate response for England when he connected with Kieran Trippier's low cross but Toby Alderweireld did well to block.

Belgium's second goal came from a harshly-awarded free kick against Declan Rice on Kevin De Bruyne.

Yet there was no doubting the quality of Mertens' finish as he curled the ball over the wall and inside the post.

Harry Winks replaced Jordan Henderson after halftime for England, which was missing the injured Raheem Sterling, but it made little difference to their potency.

The bright spot for England was Grealish who followed up his fine performance in the 3-0 friendly win against Ireland this week with another confident performance display.

Defeat was Southgate's 10th while in charge of England from 48 games.

Denmark downs Iceland

A pair of penalties by Christian Eriksen, including a stoppage-time winner, capped a superb individual performance as Denmark beat Iceland 2-1 in Copenhagen on Sunday to set up a final-day showdown with Nations League group leader Belgium.

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