Belgium ended its qualifications for the 2022 World Cup with a 1-1 split in Wales on Tuesday in Cardiff in the 8th and final day of Group E. Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring (12th), Kieffer Moore equalized (32nd). Already assured of qualification, the Red Devils end this campaign undefeated. With practically a whole team on the flank, Roberto Martinez offered Arthur Theate, Charles De Ketelaere and Divock Ori respectively a first ‘cap’, a first start and a return to the base eleven after just over two years.
Theate directly discovered the electric atmosphere of Cardiff City Stadium by having to intervene on a cross from the right of Joe Morrell (1st).
After an enthusiastic start for the Welsh, who, despite their assured place in the jump-off, were keen to finish second to be seeded, Divock Origi created the first Belgian opportunity. Danny Ward pushed back his long shot (10th).
In the 12th minute, Kevin De Bruyne, captain in Eden Hazard’s absence, opened the scoring. The playmaker recovered a ball blocked by the Welsh defense at the entrance to the rectangle and, 16 meters, put the leather out of reach of Ward (0-1, 12th).
Wales reacted without being really dangerous until the 32nd minute, when Daniel James infiltrated the left and crossed for Kieffer Moore, who could control and adjust Koen Casteels (1-1, 32nd).
The Devils came close to regaining the advantage in a spectacular fashion. On a free kick from the right, De Bruyne served Thorgan Hazard who took a volley from outside the box. The post deprived him of what would have been one of the goals of the year (42nd). Half-time ended with a shot from Moore passing over (45th + 1).
The Welsh were enterprising back from the locker room. In a good position, Connor Roberts completely missed his shot (50th) while Morrell did not worry Casteels (52nd).
On the hour mark, Martinez offered his first appearance in the national team to Dante Vanzeir, who thus became the first Union Saint-Gilloise player to play in the national team since Jan Verheyen in 1976. He entered the game at the same time, Alexis Saelemaekers was directly dangerous (64th).
The Welsh stepped up the pressure late in the game, especially through left-back Neco Williams. Dedryck Boyata countered his first shot (77th). Koen Casteels flew off to deflect his second attempt (84th).
The last opportunity was for the Devils with a header from Boyata neutralized by Ward (90th).
For the third qualifying campaign of the Martinez era, after those of the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020, the Red Devils finished undefeated, posting a record of 25 victories in 28 games. As for this campaign, they close it with 20 points (six wins and two splits), five more than the Welsh. The Czech Republic, victorious 2-0 against Estonia, is third with 14 points and will play in the play-offs thanks to its results in the Nations League. Estonia follows with 4 units, Belarus brings up the rear with 3.
The Red Devils will meet again in March 2022 for a rally where Roberto Martinez will only call players with less than 50 ‘caps’. Two friendly meetings should enhance this internship. A few weeks later, on April 1, they will meet their opponents in the group stage of the World Cup, which will compete for the first time in winter, from November 21 to December 18.
Relive the meeting:
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Experimental Devils team are content with a draw in Wales (1-1)