Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Under-21s sunk in Belgium

By Stuart McKinley

Belgium 1 Northern Ireland 0: Stephen Robinson's Northern Ireland under-21 side had their hearts broken by Belgium, but can walk away with their heads held high.

Up against one of the top nations in Europe, Robinson's boys created numerous scoring chances – and indeed had more shots on target than the Belgians – but went down 1-0 to a goal just seconds before half time.

Robinson's team was one of the youngest under-21 line-ups that Northern Ireland has ever fielded and their performance will give him hope for the future.

Carl Winchester and Josh Carson had early chances, both of which were saved by Belgian goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

After Winchester had been denied by Kaminski again as half time approached Belgium went up to the other end of the pitch and Michy Batshuayi – who has extensive first team experience with Standard Liege – put his team in front.

Northern Ireland pushed for an equaliser throughout the second half, with James Gray and substitute Paul McElroy both going close, but comeback hopes were hit with Liam Donnelly was sent-off in injury time after picking up two yellow cards inside eight minutes.

Belgium: Kaminski, Vermijl, Arslanagic, Mechele, De Bock, Bruno, M'Poku, Malanda, Hazard, Carasco, Batshuayi. Subs: Coosemans, Lukaku, Vetokele, Ngawa, Praet, Ntambwe, Tielemans.

Northern Ireland: Brennan, Liam Donnelly, Sharpe, Thompson, Sendles-White, Millar, Dominic Ball, Winchester, Brobbel, Carson, Gray. Subs: Glendinning, McElroy, McCullough, Reid, Morgan, Mitchell, Shields.

Referee: Aleksander Gauzer (Kazakhstan).

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph