Cheat sheet: How Belgium delivered a hammering blow to the Republic of Ireland


The Republic of Ireland headed into their Euro 2016 showdown with Belgium in Bordeaux knowing they needed a result if they wanted to keep any hope of qualifying alive.

But they had a hard task ahead - Belgium currently sit second in Fifa's world rankings and the Republic hadn't beaten them since May 1966 - and it proved too much for Martin O'Neill's men.

A goalless first half saw chances for both sides, meaning at half time Ireland's passionate fans were still confident that they could push on through for a goal. But it wasn't meant to be, as the second half came alive with three goals to Belgium. Here's what happened:

The game in one line

Witsel celebrates scoring
(Hassan Ammar/AP)

Marc Wilmots' men simply had too much for Ireland.

Key moments

Ireland look dejected
(Chris Radburn/PA)

1. The Belgians started in a determined mood straight away but it took them 13 minutes to create an opening of note, as defender Toby Alderweireld got his head to Kevin De Bruyne's set-piece. Luckily for Ireland, it went wide of the goal.

2. The game remained goalless at half time although there were some close shaves for both sides. Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois had to make the game's first real save when he helped Stephen Ward's looping header over his crossbar, but Ireland's keeper Darren Randolph was also a relieved man two minutes later when Eden Hazard blasted a shot high and wide.

shae long hit in face with boot
(Hassan Ammar/AP)

3. The early signs of the second half were good for Ireland when they won a free-kick. But, after Shane Long appeared to take a boot to the face as he closed on Brady's free-kick, referee Cuneyt Cakir was not interested in appeals for a penalty. As the attack broke down, Belgium struck in devastating fashion and Romelu Lukaku scored.

4. Just past the hour mark, the game was all but over when Axel Witsel powered a header past Randolph. Belgium wrapped up the points 20 minutes from time when Hazard broke free, before squaring for Lukaku who helped himself to a second goal.

Who played well?

Lukaku scores his side's third goal aainst ireland
(Andrew Medichini/AP)

Lukaku played a huge role in answering any questions over Belgium's Euro 2016 credentials with his two goals. He was rightly given a hero's reception by the Belgium fans when he was replaced by Christian Benteke with less than 10 minutes to go.

Who played badly?

Ciaran Clark slides in on Belgium's Eden Hazard during the build up to the third goal
(Martin Rickett/PA)

Unfortunately, after scoring an own goal against Sweden in the last game, Ciaran Clark had another underwhelming game. It was him who was at fault for Belgium's third goal when he committed far too early to a challenge on Eden Hazard. He looked pretty much drained of any confidence after that.

Most unusual moment

Hendrick handed a yellow card
(Chris Radburn/PA)

Irish fans were left confused as Jeff Hendrick was handed a yellow card from Turkish referee Cakir - two balls ended up on the pitch and Hendrick kicked the one that wasn't meant to be in play.

Right result?

Axel Witsel
(Andrew Medichini/AP)

You can't even question this one - Belgium dominated in the first half, always seeming the more dangerous side. In all honestly, Ireland were pretty lucky to be unscathed at the break. And then came the second half, where Belgium just really delivered and Ireland were left with no way back.

Stat of the game

Belgium have really kicked off their tournament with that second half.

In the stands

Fans of the day

ireland fan in headgear
(Martin Rickett/PA)

belgian fan with headgear on
(Chris Radburn/PA)

Just check out that headgear - it's too difficult to pick a winner when it comes to these fans.

What's next?

Republic of Ireland's Stephen Ward acknowledges the fans
(Chris Radburn/PA)

This result means that Italy, who previously beat Belgium, have now won group E. And it's Italy who Ireland need to beat in their final game, if they are to stand a chance of emerging from Group E.