Lukaku brace and Witsel’s header help Belgium to 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland in their Group E encounter to stay in hunt for knockouts
Bordeaux (France): Romelu Lukaku finally got Belgium’s Euro 2016 up and running as one of the pre-tournament favourites derailed the Republic of Ireland’s hopes of an extended adventure in France with a 3-0 win.
Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 match vs Republic of Ireland at Matmut Atlantique Stadium in in Bordeaux, France on Saturday. Belgium won 3-0. Pic/AFP
The Everton hitman struck twice in succession either side of Axel Witsel’s 61st-minute header as the Belgians put their opening loss to Italy behind them and began to live up to their ranking as the second best team in the world.
Marc Wilmots’ men simply had too much for Ireland, who barely landed a blow at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux with Belgium dominating possession from the off and forcing them on to the back foot.
But Ireland could find neither the defensive resilience, nor a cutting edge further up the field to trouble a team packed with household names, and while the Belgians will need just a point against Sweden in their final Group E game on Wednesday to secure second spot, the Republic will need to beat Italy in Lille to stand any chance of progressing.
With this win, Belgium rise to second position in the group standing, while Ireland stay at the bottom.