Wales 0 Belgium 2: Collins the villain again as Kompany and Vertonghen slay hosts
22:47 GMT, 7 September 2012
James Collins's first-half sending off undermined the best efforts of a weakened Wales side, yet he was absolved of any blame by manager Chris Coleman.
The West Ham defender was dismissed for a lunge on right-back Guillaume Gillet as Group A favourites Belgium ended a dispiriting week for Coleman on a sour note.
The centre half saw red after horribly mistiming a tackle near the halfway line after 25 minutes, leaving an already under-strength team at the mercy of their highly-rated opponents.
Thunderous: Vincent Kompany (left) powers his header home
Take that: Jan Vertonghen smashes in the second goal
Wales (4-1-4-1): Myhill 6; Matthews 7, Collins 4, Blake 7, Gunter 7; A Williams 7; Church 6 (Robson-Kanu, 71min, 6), Edwards 6 (King, 79), Ramsey 6, Bale 8; Morison 6 (Vokes 72, 6)
Booked: Williams, Vokes.
Sent off: Collins.
Belgium (4-1-4-1): Courtois; 6, G Gillet 6, Kompany 8, Vermaelen 7, Vertonghen 6; Witsel 6; Hazard 6, Fellaini 5, Dembele 6 (De Bruyne, 46, 6), Mertens 6; Mirallas 6 (Lukaku, 46, 6)
Scorers: Kompany 42, Vertonghen 83
Booked: G Gillet, Vertoghen.
Man of the match: Gareth Bale.
Referee: Stefan Johannesson (Swe) 6.
It was the latest gaffe in a dreadful
series of mistakes by Collins for his country. And he could have little
complaint when Swedish referee Stefan Johannesson ordered him off.
But Coleman jumped to Collins’s
defence. ‘I don’t think it was a red card,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen the
incident half-a-dozen times and maybe I’m biased but I think the referee
went on the reaction of the Belgium player on the floor. He got up and
finished the 90 minutes.
‘We can’t let players just run past
us. Sometimes as a defender you can’t help yourself. Even if it was
late, it wasn’t malicious. Maybe I’m old school, but I’ve seen more
dangerous tackles than that.’
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots countered
with ‘the referee had to give it’ and although the arguments raged
afterwards, there was little doubt it made a difficult job all the
harder for the hosts.
Agony: Guillaume Gillet writhes after being slide tackled by James Collins, who is sent off (below)
Coleman, already shorn of seven
players who could reasonably have expected to start, had to re-shuffle
his pack before kick-off when Joe Allen was struck down with a virus.
Wales, with Gareth Bale and Aaron
Ramsey outstanding, made a decent fist of the game before Collins’s
dismissal, even with their scratch side.
But thereafter it was only likely to
take one goal to swing the balance in Belgium’s favour. And the
breakthrough came four minutes before the interval.
Dries Mertens’s corner on the right was met at the near post by Vincent Kompany and his header flashed past Boaz Myhill.
Well done: Belgium celebrate with scorer Kompany
Rivals: Aaron Ramsey gets to grips with Mousa Dembele
After the interval, Wales were reduced
to raiding from deep using Bale’s energy. It took a fine stop from
Thibaut Courtois to prevent the Tottenham winger from finding the net
with a 30-yard free-kick. But that was as close as Wales came to
The match finished as a contest seven minutes from time when Aaron Ramsey was adjudged to have tripped Romelu Lukaku.
Contrasting fortunes: Club-mates Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale
‘It wasn’t a free-kick,’ said a frustrated Coleman, ‘Lukaku pulled back his leg to have a shot and caught Aaron.’
That did not seem to matter to Jan Vertonghen, who lashed a thunderous left-foot shot beyond Myhill from 25 yards.
In truth, it was only half-hearted
finishing that prevented a greater margin of victory. Yet that would
have been unfair on the 10 players who remained on the pitch in
Tussle: Bale goes in on Dries Mertens
Star names: Eden Hazard and Dembele featured for Belgium but neither were on top form