Belgian player: “We lacked fighting spirit”. Belgium was eliminated in the European Football Championship after losing to Wales on Friday night in the quarterfinals at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille.
For Wales it was perhaps the greatest night in its football history. The Welsh team surprised the Belgian team, a much higher ranked team, with its forceful play and effective defense and will now meet Portugal in the semifinals on Wednesday.
It didn’t help that Belgium almost was playing at home not far from the Belgian-French border and took the lead in the 13th minute with an impressive goal from a distance of 25 meters or more by midfielder Radja Nainggolan.
Belgium continued pressuring and partly dominated the play in the first half until Wales’s captain Ashley Williams in the 30th minute put his team back into the fight when he headed a corner into the goal.
The game continued back and forth but the Red Devils didn’t manage to break the Welsh defense. The game was undecided in the second half until Wales scored two surprising goals in the 55th and 85th minutes by Hal Robson-Kanu respectively Sam Vokes.
The goal by Robson-Kanu was amazing. Surrounded by three Belgian players he suddenly dragged the ball back and swiveled into clear space to score a goal. “It’s instincts,” he said.
The Belgian team did its utmost to score until the very last minute of the match but the Welsh continued to play well both in the defense and on the offensive.
“Our defeat is simply explained by a difference of commitment and mindset,” said Thomas Meunier, the right-back in the Red Devils.
“Wales isn’t Brazil but plays very well and aggressively as a team as we have seen today. We were certainly not weaker but we lacked a fighting spirit and that made the difference.”
The Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was harsh in his analysis after the defeat and indirectly blamed the coach Marc Wilmots for failed tactics. “It was the same in the loss against Italy.”
Marc Wilmots said after the match that he is not thinking of leaving “right now. It’s too early to give an answer if I stay or not. “What I know is that my team worked well and I want to thank them.”
What is sure is that the Belgian supporters left Lille with a heavy heart after the defeat.