Goals from Laura De Neve and Tessa Wullaert were enough for Belgium as they battled back in the Nations League to beat England 3-2 for the first time in their history and boost their chances of qualifying for the Olympics in Paris.
It was a clinical performance from Belgium, who were happy to sit back and absorb pressure from the Lionesses, showing marked improvement from their 1-0 loss in Leicester on Friday. An inch-perfect free kick from De Neve set the Red Flames on the way before a 13 minute stoppage for a head injury to Alex Greenwood disrupted the pace of the match.
Halfway through the sizable injury time, Wullaert strode through the backline to bring the hosts back into the tie and level the scores before half-time. It looked like the ghosts of the 3-3 at the same stadium in 2019 had come back to haunt the Lionesses as they struggled to find their best form, but ultimately it was the missed chances that came back to haunt the visitors in Leuven.
Another well-timed break from the hosts set the final result in motion as Yana Daniels‘ ball into the box struck Georgia Stanway on the arm, gifting Wullaert the chance to seal the win from the spot. Even though Mary Earps followed the path of the ball, there was little England’s No. 1 could do about Wullaert’s well-struck penalty.
The result leaves England’s path to the Olympics in jeopardy as they sit third in League A, Group 1 and only the two Nations League finalists are assured of a spot in Paris alongside hosts France.
The Lionesses’ best chance is to win their last two games (against the Netherlands and Scotland) by a comfortable margin and hope that Belgium drop points somewhere. Should England, who are nominated as the home team to represent Great Britain at the Olympics, fail to pick up maximum points against the Dutch at Wembley at the start of December, Great Britain will be out of the running for the Olympics.
The fight for top spot in the group is likely to go down to the last match day on Dec. 5.