- goal scored by Y. Tielemans
- goal scored by D. Mertens
- goal scored by Y. Tielemans
- goal scored by D. Mertens
Taking the positives
England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane find solace from second-half performance
“I think we were dominant today and I think we were unlucky to concede the two goals. Obviously, the first one being a deflection and the second one, I don’t think it was a free-kick but it went against us.
“From there we dominated, we had the better chances and had more possession of the ball and we were more of a threat. We just couldn’t find that final product today.
“There are lots of positives to take – of course, we’re disappointed we lost, but for sure it will give us confidence going into the game on Wednesday and obviously the games in March as well.
“I thought it worked really well [the attacking shape] – Mason and Jack are really good on the ball around the box, one-twos, and I think that showed today. With the full-backs getting high as well and a lot of people in the box, maybe it was just the final cross or the final finish that wasn’t quite there tonight.
“I think if we play like this going forward we’re going to win the majority of games, for sure.
“We can take the positives from the game but of course, we’ve got to learn from the loss and we go again on Wednesday.
“I think with the squad we’ve got and the players we’ve got, we’ve got to have full belief. We know it’s a difficult task and there are a lot of great teams in Europe, but we’ve beaten some of the best teams over the past couple of years.
“We’ve got to confidence from that – we can’t get too high or too low when we lose games like we did today. We just have to learn and move on.”
“We don’t want to lose football matches and we don’t like to lose football matches, but I’ve got to give enormous credit to the team.
“Right the way through the game, they created problems with the ball, we defended resiliently.
“I thought we were excellent and I really couldn’t have enough praise for all of the players.
“There were some huge plusses for us. Although we didn’t want to go out of the competition and we didn’t like losing today, the level of performance was excellent.
“I’m not sure we could have been any more creative than we ended up tonight – we ended up with two attacking wing backs, three attacking forwards.
“We created a lot of chances tonight, as we did in the first half an hour against Denmark, so we’ll constantly keep reviewing and trying to improve – of course we will. But for me, we’ve had ten or eleven debutants across this autumn period and a lot of plusses.
“Personally more [belief against the big teams after tonight] – as the manager you’ve got to focus on performance and if you play at the level we did tonight then you’ll win more games than you lose.
“Tonight, I don’t think we got the reward – a deflected goal, a goal from a free-kick which was top quality but I don’t think was a free-kick, without having studied it closely. But that’s done – we were very pleased with the performance and that’s what we have to focus on.”
We’ve played 24 times, with England winning 15, four draws and four victories for Belgium.
England 1-0 Belgium
2 June 2012
A Danny Welbeck goal, his first for the England senior team, secured victory in this pre-tournament friendly at Wembley.
Aside from Welbeck’s well-taken finish, one notable incident came in the first half when Three Lions defender Gary Cahill was knocked over by Dries Mertens and suffered a serious jaw injury which ruled him out of the trip to Ukraine and Poland for EURO 2012 the following month.
England 1-0 Belgium
27 June 1990
Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna, Italy
This FIFA 1990 World Cup second round clash almost went the distance in Bologna, until that unforgettable goal from David Platt won it for Sir Bobby Robson’s men.
After a tense game with neither side able to made a breakthrough, it looked as though we were on for a penalty shootout.
But when Paul Gascoigne clipped a free-kick into the area, Platt watched the ball float over his head and waited, before executing a perfect volley over Michel Preud’homme and into the goal.
Belgium 0-2 England
21 May 1921
Stade à Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels
England ran out as winners in the first meeting of the nations in what was England’s 126th game.
A selection committee took the Three Lions to Brussels, where a goal in each half from Charlie Buchan and Harry Chambers sealed a win for England.
UEFA Nations League head-to-head
Youri Tielemans' ninth-minute strike and Dries Mertens' free-kick midway through the first half gives Belgium victory, despite strong England fight-back
Match report: Belgium 2-0 England
By Will Jennings
England’s hopes of reaching a second consecutive UEFA Nations League semi-final came to an end after Gareth Southgate’s team suffered a 2-0 defeat against Belgium.
The Three Lions went into the contest needing a result to keep their chances of qualification alive but first-half goals from Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens made for a frustrating night in Leuven.
The visitors showed signs of promise throughout the opening period but Tielemans’ deflected low shot, followed by Mertens’ free-kick, sent Southgate’s side into the break two goals behind.
And despite an impressive second-half performance, England were unable to find a breakthrough and had their hopes of emulating last season’s run to the Nations League finals dashed at Den Dreef.
Both sides looked lively from the off and it was England skipper Harry Kane, celebrating his 50th cap for the Three Lions, who created the first opening when he shot wide after an enterprising solo run.
But it was Roberto Martinez’s Group A2 table-toppers who took the lead after nine minutes when Tielemans rifled a low shot past Jordan Pickford.
The Leicester City midfielder received Romelu Lukaku’s lay-off on the edge of the box and made no mistake with his effort, firing in powerfully off the post to put the hosts in front.
England almost hit back immediately, however, with only Lukaku’s last-ditch clearance off the line preventing Kane’s towering header restoring parity.
The visitors responded promisingly after their early setback and Jack Grealish, making his maiden competitive start in a Three Lions shirt, found space on the edge of the box only for his shot to be blocked by a Belgian defender.
But Belgium soon doubled their advantage when Mertens curled a free-kick into the corner after Declan Rice was harshly adjudged to have fouled Kevin de Bruyne on the edge of the area.
England fought back brightly again as Kane and Grealish continued to link up but Southgate’s side, who were forced into a first-half change as Bukayo Saka replaced the injured Ben Chilwell, were unable to reduce the deficit despite Kane, and then Mason Mount, both going close.
The Three Lions carried on from where they left off in the second period, introducing Harry Winks for Jordan Henderson at the break and starting encouragingly as Mount fired a free-kick over the bar.
Kieran Trippier then hit the wall with his dead ball effort after good work from Grealish drew a foul, before Kane had a shot saved from the edge of the box and Grealish, exerting increased influence on the content, jinked in the area before curling over.
Southgate’s team continued to dominate the second period and the England boss sought to shake things up in search of a goal on 70 minutes, introducing the in-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jadon Sancho from the bench.
Lukaku drew a smart reaction save from Pickford at the other end but it was England who were bossing possession, with Grealish producing a scintillating turn to release Kane, whose shot deflected over for an England corner.
The England captain then fired narrowly wide before being denied by a Jan Vertonghen block, while Sancho spurned a good opportunity when in a dangerous position on the right-hand-side.
Lukaku went close to scoring a third late on and while England continued to rally, Martinez’s side – who will finish at the summit of Group A2 if they beat Denmark on Wednesday – held on to thwart England’s hopes of progression.
England (3-4-3): 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton); 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 4 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), 12 Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa); 3 Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 5 Declan Rice (West Ham United), 15 Ben Chilwell (Chelsea); 7 Mason Mount (Chelsea), 9 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) (c), 16 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Substitutes: 20 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) for Chilwell 38’, 14 Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur) for Henderson 45’, 18 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) for Mount 69’, 11 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) for Trippier 70’
Substitutes not used: 6 Michael Keane (Everton), 13 Nick Pope (Burnley), 17 Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), 19 Phil Foden (Manchester City), 21 Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), 22 Dean Henderson (Manchester United), 23 Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
- Dribbles: 6
- Shots: 3
- Chances created: 2