2016 European Championship, Group Stage 2016
  • Romelu Lukaku (48', 70')
  • Axel Witsel (61')

Romelu Lukaku scores twice as Belgium beat Rep of Ireland

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and Axel Witsel once as Belgium got off the mark at Euro 2016, comfortably beating Republic of Ireland 3-0 in Bordeaux.

Belgium had failed to impress during their opening game of the tournament, losing 2-0 to Italy, but Marc Wilmots made three changes to that side, with Mousa Dembele and Yannick Carrasco replacing Radja Nainggolan and Marouane Fellaini in midfield, while Thomas Meunier came in for Laurent Ciman at right-back, and it worked a treat as they emphatically swept Ireland aside.

The Red Devils were the better side in a goalless first half without taking their chances but they made no such mistake after half-time and took the lead soon after the break through Lukaku.

There was controversy in the build-up when Toby Alderweireld's high foot could have resulted in a penalty for Ireland but from the clearance that followed Belgium countered with great effect through De Bruyne who fed Lukaku on the edge of the box and the Everton striker calmly curled his shot into the left-hand corner of the goal and beyond Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

Shortly before the hour Dembele was replaced by Nainggolan, but it was another midfielder, Axel Witsel who would make the decisive contribution soon after. The Zenit Saint Petersburg man ghosted into the Ireland box to head home a Meunier cross and double Belgium's lead.

And in the 70th minute the game was effectively over when Eden Hazard set up Lukaku for his second and Belgium's third with a straightforward finish inside the penalty area.

It was a disappointing afternoon for Ireland who did not bring a single save from Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and they now need to beat Italy in their final to stand any chance of going through in third place.

Belgium, meanwhile, need one point from their final group game against Sweden to secure a place in the round of 16.