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February 27, 2024

Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji

England’s hopes of progressing in the Women’s Nations League were dealt a huge blow after a late defeat in Belgium. Belgium secured a 3-2 win over European champions, England.

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Belgium forward Tessa Wullaert scored two goals either side of half-time, including one from the penalty spot in the 85th minute, to inflict a second defeat in the competition for the Lionesses.

There was concern too for England defender Alex Greenwood who received lengthy treatment for a head injury before being taken off a stretcher in the first half.

England were 1-0 down when Greenwood went off after Belgium centre-back Laura de Neve curled in a brilliant free-kick in Leuven.

Sarina Wiegman’s side, clearly shaken by the injury to Greenwood, responded well with two superb goals from Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby but Belgium drew level again before the break with a composed finish from captain Wullaert.

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The Lionesses, who narrowly beat Belgium 1-0 in Leicester on Friday, had the better chances as Alessia Russo, Rachel Daly, and Kirby all forced saves from goalkeeper Nicky Evrard, while Bronze had a goal-bound shot blocked by Janice Cayman.

However, Belgium’s Wullaert was a constant threat and eventually scored the winner having been denied by England goalkeeper Mary Earps – who came fifth in the 2023 Ballon d’Or awards on Monday evening – earlier in the second half.

The result was a huge blow for England’s quest to make it to the maiden Nations League final and put the team and Great Britain’s Olympic qualification in a dicey situation after a second loss in the competition.

Meanwhile…

Denise O’Sullivan netted a late winner for the Republic of Ireland after their Women’s Nations League game in Albania was halted for 90 minutes by rain.

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The win secured the Republic’s top spot in Group B1 as they sealed promotion to League A.

Play was suspended at half-time as the pitch in Shkoder became waterlogged following a thunderstorm.

After action eventually resumed, the Republic continued to be frustrated until O’Sullivan’s 88th-minute goal.

The Republic went into Tuesday’s encounter knowing that they would win the group with two games to spare if they triumphed in Albania and Northern Ireland drew with Hungary in Belfast, which was exactly what happened as it finished 1-1.

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