Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Batshuayi the difference

Michy Batshuayi's first-half effort proved the difference as Belgium Under-21s overcame Northern Ireland 1-0.

The Standard Liege striker's effort on the stroke of half-time at a damp Mourneview Park condemned Green and White Army to a third defeat of the European Championship qualifying campaign.

It leaves Northern Ireland bottom of Group 9 with very little chance of making the finals in the Czech Republic in 2015.

In a dominant opening 15 minutes, Batshuayi saw a shot blocked before Connor Brennan denied former Tottenham man Paul-Jose M'Poku.

The Kilmarnock goalkeeper thwarted Igor Vetokele soon after, before Dino Arslanagic missed a great opportunity for Belgium.

Carl Winchester tested Colin Coosemans as Northern Ireland attempted to find a breakthrough, but were soon on the back foot again.

Jordan Lukaku, younger brother of Everton loanee Romelu, and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco had attempts for Belgium, before Batshuayi put them ahead in the 44th minute.

Jonny Gorman came on in place of Rhys Sharpe at half-time, with Brennan doing well to keep Mpoku at bay after the restart.

Ferreira-Carrasco missed the target with a great opportunity in the 59th minute and Laurens De Bock was denied as the clock wound down, before Shay McCartan came agonisingly close by hitting the woodwork.

McCartan had another effort in stoppage time, but Coosemans denied the Burnley striker as Belgium held out for victory in Lurgan.


From Belfast Telegraph