VIDEO: Late goals down Lions
Monday, 14 November, 2011
Belgium come from behind to beat England in Mons.
By Jamie Bradbury in Mons
Watch FATV highlights from England's 2-1 defeat to Belgium
A double substitution helped Belgium come from a goal down as they beat England’s Under-21s in Mons.
Jens Naessens and Omar El Kaddouri netted crucial strikes to consign Stuart Pearce’s Group 8 leaders to their first defeat of the season and keep alive their own hopes of reaching the Euro 2013 play-offs.
The Three Lions still sit top of the group as they bring their 2011 fixture calendar to a close, but the win for Franck Dury’s side sees them leapfrog Norway into second place and close the gap on England to four points.
And it all started so well for the visitors when Liverpool’s Martin Kelly, scorer of the second of five against Iceland on Thursday night, got the opener on 14 minutes, heading in off the post. Belgium’s late show, though, keeps England in touch with the other teams in the table.
England had dominated the possession early on but the first opportunity was for the home side when Brugge forward Thomas Meunier collected a pass in the right side of the Three Lions’ box and, beating Craig Dawson, slid a ball across the six yard box. Ziguy Badibanga was looking to get on the end of it, but Adam Smith was on hand to turn away for a corner.
Marvin Sordell’s back header from Jordan Henderson’s corner was as close as England came in the first ten minutes, but Koen Casteels always knew it would drop over the bar. However, he could do nothing about Kelly’s header just before the quarter-hour mark.
MK Dons defender Smith attacked on the right flank but was chopped down by Jimmy de Jonghe. The Club Brugge man was lucky to escape with just a telling off from Austrian referee Harald Lechner, but his team paid the ultimate price.
Skipper Henderson took the free-kick which found his Reds club-mate Kelly rising to guide in off the woodwork, which delighted the small pocket of travelling England fans behind the goal.
Belgium, who had picked up five points from their four qualifiers before, responded quickly, though. First Gianni Bruno found space on the left of the England area, but drove straight at Jack Butland. Captain Nill de Pauw’s chance was better midway through the half. His shot on the turn arrowed towards goal, but luckily for England hit the outside of the upright and out for a goal kick.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came agonisingly close to making it two for England following a good move on the left. Josh McEachran fed the ball into Marvin Sordell inside the Belgium area and the Watford man crossed. Chamberlain was on the end of it, turning inside and from six yards smashed towards goal, but Gregory Mertens got the block to deflect away for a corner.
Meunier, who was pulling the strings for Belgium, was not far from levelling matters just after the break. He strode forward into England territory before unleashing a long-distance drive that looked to have Butland beaten, but also flashed past the post.
Chamberlain had one at the other end, a volley from 18-yards directly from Henderson’s right-hand corner. But again the effort was off target, going just fractionally over the bar.
And on 72 minutes, the game was all square again. Having seen play-maker Meunier substituted it looked like the main threat for England had left the field. But it was two substitutes who combined to get the vital leveller.
Omar El Kaddouri managed to squeeze in a low cross from the right as Jens Naessens darted towards the near post. The Zulte-Waregem forward got the perfect touch, sliding in to send the ball across Butland’s goal and sneaking inside the far post.
Henderson saw a glorious point-blank opportunity blocked from six-yards by Koen Casteels with seven minutes left. His volley from Chamberlain’s cross was straight at the Hoffenheim stopper, and proved to be a match-winning save as Belgium score the decider in injury time.
Ziguy Badibanga broke free from the half-way line and made a beeline for England’s box and the unprotected Butland. He got there just before Kelly and was able to let fly with a left foot strike across goal.
The ball struck the post and the danger looked to have been averted, but El Kaddouri was the first on the scene to snap up the rebound giving Butland little chance as he slammed home from 15 yards.
It was a perfect finish for Belgium and they ended a perfect start for England.
The two meet in the first game of 2012 in the return fixture, and the Three Lions will be keen to bounce back strongly.