Bellingham slots last-gasp equaliser as England draw with Belgium

AFP , Wednesday 27 Mar 2024

Jude Bellingham scored at the death to restore English pride on Tuesday to claim a 2-2 draw after Youri Tielemans struck twice for Belgium in the teams' final match before squads are announced for Euro 2024.

England s Jude Bellingham, right, celebrates after scoring his side s second goal during an international friendly soccer match between England and Belgium at Wembley Stadium, in London, Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)


Injury-hit England produced a display full of attacking verve but the visitors were a constant threat on the break and Tielemans made them pay for defensive lapses.

Aston Villa midfielder Tielemans opened the scoring after a bad error from England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and headed home a second later in the first half after Ivan Toney had equalised from the penalty spot.

Belgium survived a succession of England efforts and seemed certain to hold out for the win in front of more than 80,000 fans at Wembley before Real Madrid midfielder Bellingham struck deep into stoppage time.

England boss Gareth Southgate, whose team are among the favourites to win the European Championship in Germany starting in June, has had to grapple with numerous absences during the March international window.

His problems mounted when defender John Stones was forced off early in the pouring rain in London, replaced by Joe Gomez.

The home side's miserable start to the evening got worse moments later when Belgium, without the injured Kevin De Bruyne, took the lead in bizarre fashion.

Pickford tried to play a cross-field pass when out of position but could only pick out Everton team-mate Amadou Onana, who released Tielemans.

The midfielder coolly slotted into the bottom corner of the net from just outside the penalty area as Pickford raced across his line to try to get back in position.

But the home side were level minutes later when Manchester United starlet Kobbie Mainoo, making his first international start, combined with Bellingham before the Real Madrid defender fed Toney, who was tripped by Jan Vertonghen.

Toney, leading the attack in the absence of captain Harry Kane, took the resulting penalty himself, stroking the ball home nonchalantly to make it 1-1.

With the game opening up, Jeremy Doku raced down the left before cutting in and testing Pickford with a stinging shot that the goalkeeper pushed away.

England, playing with zest and adventure, thought they had taken the lead in the 26th minute when Bowen nodded home following a Phil Foden corner but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Bellingham fluffed his lines when he smashed over from close range with only goalkeeper Matz Sels to beat.

Tielemans double

Instead it was the visitors who scored next, to the delight of their vocal band of fans.

Lewis Dunk, playing in central defence in place of the missing Harry Maguire, failed to deal with a long ball over the top and Belgium captain Romelu Lukaku pounced.

The forward crossed brilliantly with the outside of his left foot, straight into the path of the diving Tielemans, who powerfully headed home.

Bellingham tested Sels after more good work form the impressive Jarrod Bowen in added time but England could not get back on terms.

The game settled into a similar pattern after the break, with Southgate's enjoying the lion's share of possession but the visitors a constant threat on the counter.

Bellingham missed another glorious chance to equalise in the 54th minute when he put a header wide from the edge of the six-yard box after being found by Gomez.

The Liverpool man again nearly played provider, this time for Bowen, but Sels saved, then stuck out a leg to deny Mainoo, who, though just 18, looks as though he has been part of the set-up for years.

England kept pushing while Belgium had chances of their own at the other end before substitute James Maddison found Bellingham, who finished from about 10 yards out.

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