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  • Exclusive by Alessandro Schiavone

Millwall's keeper keeps Champions League finalist quiet but then gifts De Bruyne the opener

By Alessandro Schiavone at King Boudewijn Stadium, Brussels

Leandro Trossard's 93rd minute penalty sealed the deal for Belgium yesterday in their 2-0 win over Montenegro.

Kevin De Bruyne marked his 100th appearance for his country with a fine long-range effort into an empty net in the opening 45.

Domenico Tedesco's Red Devils could have been five goals to the good in the first-half alone had Yannick Ferreira Carrasco had his shooting boots on.

The former Atletico Madrid winger could have bagged at least the match-ball, if not more, with a refined clinical edge.

But take nothing away from Millwall's Matija Sarkic in Montenegro's goal as he produced a flurry of worldy stops. The best of all was a right-handed reflex save from Carrasco's effort albeit he didn't know much about it.

Ironically Montenegro's MOTM then gifted Belgium the opening goal when his sped off his line to clear the danger only for the ball to end up into the path of De Bruyne.

And the freshly crowned Premier League champion didn't require a second invitation as he fired home from distance.

After half-time the Millwall keeper brilliantly repelled Maxim De Cuyper's deflected effort from 20 yards out but was unable to keep out Trossard's last gasp spot-kick.

The Belgians were without key men Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans and Jan Vertonghen and have some serious improving to do if they want to finally win a major trophy.

This was a great opportunity for manager Tedesco to test the depth of his squad but not all of his understudies passed with aplomb.

Loïs Openda was off the pace, Johan Bakayoko rarely carried a threat while Dortmund outcast Thomas Meunier showed why he's behind Fulham's Timothy Castagne in the pecking order.

Despite a hit-and-miss season at AS Roma there's a growing consensus that there's a Belgium side with and one without Lukaku. And the powerhouse's return to the XI can't come soon enough.

Wasteful Champions League finalist Carrasco made Sarkic look like Buffon and has to do some fine-tuning in the box. Chelsea's Big Rom would have had at least a hat-trick to his name had those fallen to him.

Belgian's final dress rehearsal before they kick off their Euro 2024 campaign against Slovakia is against neighbours Luxembourg on Saturday.

And anything other than a convincing win won't be enough to silence the critics back home.


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