July 25th, 2017

Gallery: All the images from an extremely difficult second half for Ireland

EURO 2016By Sunday World

Ireland were unable to replicate a first-half performance which saw Belgium frustrated in front of goal, as goals from Romelu Lukaku (2) and Axel Witsel saw the Belgian Red Devils trounce the Boys in Green 3-0.

A scoreless first half was followed by an almost-immediate Belgium goal scored by Lukaku from a Kevin de Bruyne cross.

Marc Wilmots' side doubled their lead through Axel Witsel after 61 minutes, the midfielder allowed a free header from a Thomas Meunier cross after slack marking from James McCarthy.

The Everton striker got his second, Belgium's third, in the 70th minute after Ciaran Clark missed a half-way line tackle on Eden Hazard, allowing the Belgium captain to fly up the pitch before finding an unmarked Lukaku to tap home.

It was a tough opening 45 minutes for Martin O'Neill's men, with Belgium having most of the ball and most of the chances.

Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco had a goal ruled out for offside, Toby Alderweireld went close with a header from a corner while Eden Hazard should have converted with a chance inside the box.

Luckily for Ireland, the Chelsea man blazed over from 12 yards out.

Goalscorer from the Sweden game Wes Hoolahan cleared a Toby Alderweireld header off the line late in the half after the Spurs defender again found space in the Ireland box.

Ireland are definitely the happier of the two sides to go in at 0-0 after a half where the Belgian Red Devils dominated.

Belgium took the lead just two minutes into the second half, breaking quickly from an Irish attack after what could have been deemed a foul on Shane Long.

The dangerous De Bruyne carried the ball up the left wing before finding Lukaku in the centre, who found the corner of Randolph's goal from 18 yards out.

Witsel then found space in the box when McCarthy failed badly in his attempts to mark his man, allowing the big midfielder to head home despite Randolph's best efforts.

Lukaku wrapped up the victory with a close-range tap in after Ireland were badly caught out at the back.

Despite the demoralising defeat, Ireland fans were still belting out 'The Fields of Athenry' as the match-clock hit 90 minutes.