Kevin De Bruyne was a class apart, Romelu Lukaku found his goalscoring touch and Belgium showed why they were considered one of the pre-tournament favourites with a brilliant attacking display against the Republic of Ireland. Wounded after being outclassed by Italy in their first match of Euro 2016, Belgium turned on the style in some style to overwhelm Ireland 3-0 in this Group E encounter in Bordeaux.
De Bruyne and Lukaku came for the most criticism after an abject Belgium showing led to a 2-0 defeat to Italy, but in this match, albeit against lesser opposition, the Manchester City and Everton forwards were irresistible, particularly the former, who ran the Belgium show from minute one.
After a first half where Belgium really deserved to go into halftime with a lead, Ireland were torn apart in the second 45.
The first goal came in the 48th minute, with De Bruyne, whose setpiece skills were at its absolute best in this game, even if a goal did not come out of it, expectedly the creator. The playmaker, in space, ran down the right before squaring the ball for Lukaku, who was waiting on the edge of the box. Lukaku, like he has done so often for Everton, picked his spot, before rolling the ball into the corner past Darren Randolph's right.
Axel Witsel made it 2-0 to Belgium in the 61st minute, with the midfielder powering home a header past the Ireland goalkeeper off a cross from right-back Thomas Meunier, who came into this Belgium XI for Laurent Ciman, one of three changes Marc Wilmots made to his starting XI, with Mousa Dembele, who would later go off injured, and Yannick Carrasco coming in as well. The second goal was a thing of beauty from Belgium, coming after 28 passes.
If the match was not over as a contest with that goal, it certainly was on 70 minutes, as Belgium broke off a quick counterattack to finish Ireland off. It was a similar goal to the first one, with Eden Hazard, this time, making a searing run down the right. The Chelsea forward took his time before, again, squaring the ball for Lukaku, who, in acres of space, and only 12 yards out, made no mistake with the finish, putting the ball into the back of the net, past Randolph's right again.