Germany 2-3 Belgium: De Bruyne dazzles as Tedesco era offers promise

By Sports Desk March 28, 2023

Kevin De Bruyne produced an attacking masterclass as new Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco made it two wins in as many games with a 3-2 friendly triumph at Germany on Tuesday.

Tedesco's tenure started with a 3-0 victory over Sweden in Euro 2024 qualifying on Friday, and Belgium, inspired by new captain De Bruyne, impressed again at RheinEnergieStadion.

Germany had no answer inside the first nine minutes in Cologne as De Bruyne teed up goals for Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku.

Niclas Fullkrug's 44th-minute penalty offered Hansi Flick's hosts hope, but De Bruyne's slick 78th-minute finish ensured another victory at the start of a promising era under Tedesco as Serge Gnabry's late reply counted for little.

Carrasco fired Belgium into a sixth-minute lead after cutting inside from De Bruyne's pinpoint pass before coolly blasting into the roof of the net.

Another delicate De Bruyne throughball teed up Belgium's second, Lukaku racing through and lofting over an onrushing Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Dodi Lukebakio inexplicably dragged a glorious chance wide before Lukaku headed onto the crossbar from De Bruyne's corner, prompting Flick to make two 32nd-minute changes.

The injured Leon Goretzka and Florian Wirtz made way for Felix Nmecha and Emre Can, with Germany responding as Fullkrug converted his penalty after Lukaku was adjudged to have handled.

Germany ramped up the pressure after the interval as Gnabry smashed just wide before Timo Werner saw a strike ruled out for offside. Joshua Kimmich also went close with a whistling low strike.

But De Bruyne put the game out of reach, finishing into the bottom-right corner from Leandro Trossard's offload, making Gnabry's late strike from Kevin Schade's low cross – shortly after hitting the post – a mere consolation.

What does it mean? Flick warning as Belgium earn rare Germany win

Flick's side do not have to qualify for Euro 2024 due to hosting the tournament, but Germany cannot afford such early lapses in concentration at that showpiece competition.

Belgium had not beaten their hosts since 1954 but raced into the ascendancy after eight minutes and 26 seconds – their earliest 2-0 lead since February 2003 against Algeria.

Despite improving in response, Germany must show more if they are to build ahead of the Euros, with Flick needing a strong home performance after their group-stage exit at the World Cup in Qatar.

De Bruyne and Lukaku shine

Lukaku's treble against Sweden saw him join Robert De Veen on three hat-tricks for their country, the joint-most for Belgium.

The Inter loanee once again found the net here to continue his impressive form under Tedesco, although he could not have done so without De Bruyne, who created a game-leading three chances to go with his goal.

Fullkrug on fire

Fullkrug had to wait until November 2022 for his Germany debut in a pre-World Cup friendly against Oman – but he certainly has not looked back since then.

The Werder Bremen striker has scored six goals in his first six international appearances, with no Germany player this century managing as many goals in their first half-dozen outings.

What's next?

Belgium return to Euro 2024 qualifying action when they host Austria on June 17, while Germany are yet to confirm their next friendly opponents.

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