Lauren Wade’s superb goal equalised for Northern Ireland on the stroke of half-time

Belgium capitalised on Jackie Burns’ red card with 21 minutes to play as Northern Ireland lost their sole Euro 2022 warm-up 4-1 in Lier.

Tessa Wullaert gave Belgium the lead on 24 minutes before Lauren Wade’s superb equaliser.

Goalkeeper Burns was sent off on 69 minutes for fouling captain Wullaert outside the area.

Belgium made the most of their advantage through Ella van Kerkhoven, Wullaert and Laura Rafferty’s own goal.

Kenny Shiels’ side begin their Euro 2022 campaign – a maiden major tournament for Northern Ireland – against Norway on 7 July at St Mary’s before taking on Austria and England in Southampton.

Belgium, ranked 19th in the world and some 28 places above Northern Ireland, take on Iceland, France and Italy in Group D.

Wade’s wonder strike cancels out Wullaert opener

Prior to kick-off Shiels had spoken about his desire for more than one warm-up match ahead of Northern Ireland’s maiden major tournament. It was the visitors who started the brighter side under the setting Lier sun as Kirsty McGuinness’ ambitious effort was pushed away by Nicky Evrard in the home goal.

However, the Red Flames grew into the half and Wullaert’s effort bounced off the outside of the post after Sarah McFadden’s swing and miss failed to connect with the ball, however the Belgian captain made no mistake with her next opportunity.

Tine De Caigny cut open the Northern Ireland defence with a clinical pass between Julie Nelson and Abbie Magee, which allowed Davina Philtjens to find the unmarked Wullaert and the forward made no mistake for her 66th international goal.

Northern Ireland, without injured captain Marissa Callaghan, pushed for an immediate response with two corners that were dealt with by Everard, however they had a let off at the other end when Nelson’s half clearance fell to Hannah Eurlings but the forward could only fire over from the edge of the area.

McGuinness had another snap shot from the edge of the area, but Northern Ireland got the goal they deserved when Wade stepped up with a superb effort on the stroke of half-time.

Winger McGuiunness flicked the ball across the edge of the area and Wade reacted quickest and launched a first-time effort into the top corner beyond the diving Evrard and send Northern Ireland in level at the break.

Burns red card hits NI

It was a steady start to the second half which turned in the Belgians’ favour when goalkeeper Burns was sent off with 21 minutes to play.

Substitute Van Kerkhoven split NI’s defence and Burns hesitated before rushing out towards Wullaert, who knocked the ball around the goalkeeper before being fouled outside the area.

Burns was shown a straight red card and replacement goalkeeper Becky Flaherty was called upon in place of goalscorer Wade.

Brighouse Town stopper Flaherty was called into action as she reacted well to smother the ball as Wullaert raced through on goal, however she was beaten with eight minutes to play when Van Kerkhoven headed home a cross from Elena Dhont, who had twice gone close prior to the red card after showing some superb footwork in the area.

Wullaert grabbed her second and Belgium’s third four minutes later when the captain stroked home an inch-perfect effort from the edge of the area and Ives Serneels’ side punished NI further when Rafferty touched put into her own net in injury-time after Flaherty had saved Feli Delacauw’s initial header.

It was a harsh ending for Northern Ireland and Shiels after a solid display with 11 players and their attentions will turn to their Euro 2022 opened with Norway.

Line-ups

Belgium

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Evrard
  • 19KeesSubstituted forDhontat 45′minutes
  • 4TysiakSubstituted forDelacauwat 85′minutes
  • 18De Neve
  • 2Philtjens
  • 11CaymanSubstituted forDelooseat 66′minutes
  • 10VanhaevermaetSubstituted forMissipoat 78′minutes
  • 20Biesmans
  • 7EurlingsSubstituted forVanmechelenat 66′minutes
  • 6De CaignySubstituted forVan Kerkhovenat 78′minutes
  • 9Wullaert

Substitutes

  • 3Van Kerkhoven
  • 5Wijnants
  • 8Delacauw
  • 12Lemey
  • 13Dhont
  • 14Vanmechelen
  • 15Janssens
  • 16Minnaert
  • 21Lichtfus
  • 22Deloose
  • 23Missipo

Northern Ireland

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1BurnsBooked at 69mins
  • 5NelsonSubstituted forRaffertyat 45′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 4McFaddenSubstituted forHollowayat 66′minutes
  • 13BurrowsSubstituted forHuttonat 79′minutes
  • 22Magee
  • 16Caldwell
  • 10FurnessSubstituted forMcCarronat 65′minutes
  • 3Vance
  • 9Magill
  • 14WadeSubstituted forFlahertyat 71′minutes
  • 11McGuinnessSubstituted forWilsonat 45′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Hutton
  • 7McCarron
  • 8Holloway
  • 12Flaherty
  • 15Finnegan
  • 17Rafferty
  • 18McDaniel
  • 19Wilson
  • 20Andrews
  • 21Beattie
  • 23McGuinness

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