Belgium 0 Wales 0
Chris Coleman's Welsh dragons turned in a performance to gladden the hearts of their tuneful fans, as they held the fourth best team in the world rankings yesterday to a goalless draw in Brussels in their latest Euro 2016 qualifier. Not even the 'Golden Age' generation of Belgian talents such as Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini, Christian Benteke, Thibaut Courtois and co were able to pierce their defence, but it was mighty close on occasions.

The Welsh were playing in their new away strip of yellow for the first time and in keeping with their manager's instructions were as keen as mustard to ensure they kept their qualification hopes on course.

Advertisements
Advertisements

They had to battle and show resilience when required, as typified by Joe Allen after he had been bloodied by a forearm to the face from Fellaini, but the referee saw no deliberate intention in the incident. After a similar slap to the face twenty-four hours earlier for Adam Lallana for England, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers must be worrying that there is something about internationals and his players, especially after Daniel Sturridge's recent injuries picked up while away on England duty.

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale typified the team spirit within the Welsh group and recognised that whilst they may not have a team of galacticos, they could all still roll up their sleeves to get a result. He gave yet another energetic performance, as befits his stature these days, and was a constant threat when his side looked to spring the counter-attack after repelling the expected pressure from Belgium.

Advertisements

His speciality free-kicks twice required smart saves from Chelsea's ace stopper Courtois. However, by the later stages of the game he was required more in assisting his side to repel the home side's dangerous attacks, in particular an injury time clearance off the line as Benteke came off the bench to almost head in the winner.

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had a part in the Benteke clearance as well and was solid throughout, keeping out a first-half shot from Hazard following a typically tricky run at the Welsh defence and also denying Nacer Chadli when he looked to be bearing down on goal. He could do nothing about a shot from Nicolas Lombaerts that struck the woodwork though and was relieved to see no one following up to tap in.

As a result of the draw, Wales had briefly retained their top position in the group. They were overtaken at the top later in the day by Israel after they impressively defeated Bosnia 3-0 to maintain their 100% start, with the Bosnians being reduced to ten men shortly after half-time as "last man" Toni Sunjic was given his marching orders for fouling in-form striker Omer Damari.

Advertisements

First-half strikes from midfielder Gil Vermouth and Damari had put Israel in a commanding position going into the break. It was Damari's fifth goal in just three qualifying matches this campaign, illustrating the current potency of the man who joined Austria Wien in the summer. A third goal on 70 minutes made the game safe as Eran Zahavi also got on the scoresheet for Israel.

As much as the Welsh have enjoyed a great start to the group, both Israel and Belgium have a game in hand on them, which sees the two teams play each other. They were originally due to play last month in Israel, but for security reasons the game was put back to March 2015 at a venue yet to be decided. A draw in that game would probably suit the Welsh most, but for now they can look back on a night to be proud of against some of the best players in the world and also look ahead to the resumption of the qualifiers with genuine optimism. #Celebrities #Football #Euro2016