Morrell features as Wales lose World Cup qualifier to number one side Belgium

Midfielder replaces Allen early on

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 8:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 9:36 am
Joe Morrell goes up against Belgium's Youri Tielemans

Luton midfielder Joe Morrell won his 13th cap as Wales lost their opening World Cup 2022 qualifier in Belgium last night, going down 3-1.

The 24-year-old started on the bench, but was on after just seven minutes when Stoke City's Joe Allen was forced off.

Caretaker boss Robert Page's side then led moments later, a wonderful move seeing Gareth Bale find Harry Wilson, who sidefooted past Thibaut Courtois.

The advantage didn't last long though as Roberto Martinez's side, ranked number one in the world, levelled on 22 minutes through Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne's powerful low strike from 25 yards.

The hosts scored again six minutes later when Thorgan Hazard headed Thomas Meunier's inviting cross into the net, as although Wales had an effort through Daniel James after the break, they found opportunities hard to create.

Belgium then moved 3-1 in front with 17 remaining as Chris Mepham fouled Dries Mertens in area, Romelu Lukaku netting the penalty.

Speaking afterwards, Page, who is standing in for manager Ryan Giggs, said: "We knew coming into it they're number one in the world for a reason.

"They can score goals but we knew we could hurt them and score goals as well.

"I thought the goal we scored was fantastic and we got off to the perfect start.

"But if you give quality teams like this half a chance, inevitably the ball ends up in the back of the net.

"We addressed a few things at half-time from a tactical point of view and I thought we were better for it and went toe to toe with the world's number one team.

"So there are a lot of positives."

Wales are at home to Czech Republic this weekend.