01.09.2006 at 19:00 Terryland Park, Galway
Referee: Per Ivar Staberg
European Qualifier / PROG X2-match
Maaetem Martens 68 mins,
Paul Mc Shane
Maarten Martens grabbed the game's only goal in the 68th minute from a rebound after Paul Keegan had blocked a shot by substitute Jeanvion Yulu-Matondo from six yards out.
Belgium will now progress unless they suffer a single goal defeat or worse to Greece in Brussels on Tuesday.
It was tough luck for the brave Irish, who came into the game on a high after their 2-0 win over Greece two weeks ago.
The Belgians were a far different proposition to the Greeks and Martens might have opened the scoring after the 12th minute following a Tom De Mol cross from the right.
Michael Timlin was unlucky not to hit the net with a powerful strike in the 24th minute after combining well with Stephen Ward.
Glenn Whelan was also unlucky when his blistering strike from just outside the box in the 36th minute was just too high.
Whelan set-up Ward two minutes later for Ireland's best chance but keeper Michael Cordier forced him wide and Ward saw his shot roll into the side-netting.
After taking the lead the Belgians defended so well that their goalkeeper never really had a save to make.
Martens could have made it 2-0 in injury-time but he missed an empty goal after rounding goalkeeper Doyle.
Republic of Ireland: Doyle ( Birmingham); Foley ( Luton), Painter ( Birmingham), Bruce (Ipswich), McShane (WBA), Keegan (Drogheda Utd), Deery ( Derry), Whelan (Sheffield Weds), Flood ( Cardiff), Ward (Bohemians), Timlin (Fulham). Subs A Keogh (Scunthorpe) for Timlin 68 mins; O Donovan (Cork City) for Deery 78; Dixon (Tottenham) for Ward 88.
Belgium: Cordier; Van Audenaerde, Van Delannoite, Wuytens, Mulemo, De Mul, Overmeire, Blondel, Van Tornhout, De Smet, Maertens. Subs - Yulu-Matondo for De Smet 19; Fellaini-Bakkioui for De Mul 88; Haroun for Martens 91.
Saturday September 02 2006
Ireland U21 0 Belgium U21 1
DESPITE Tottenham's teenage prodigy Terry Dixon making his Under-21 debut in an Irish shirt, the main feeling around Terryland Park last night was that Ireland had let a glorious opportunity slip.
Don Givens' side applied plenty of pressure but ultimately lost out to a solitary second half strike from the top seeds in this European Championship qualifier
After their 2-0 success in Greece last month in the first game of the three team mini-group, the Irish had put themselves in a position whereby a win would have secured qualification for a two-legged playoff where a place in next year's championships would be the prize. Even a draw would have left them in a strong position.
Now, they must hope that the Greeks grab an unlikely one goal victory in Brussels on Tuesday in the final group encounter as that is the only way the Irish can qualify.
The Belgians came with a big reputation and forged the better goalscoring opportunities but after falling a goal behind, the Irish threw an extra man up front and came desperately close to snatching a late equaliser.
After Ireland produced one of their best spells, the visitors broke the deadlock with a goal in the 58th minute as Jeanvion Yulu Matondo's shot was blocked into the path of Maarten Martens whose left foot volley gave Colin Doyle no chance.
Ireland were sluggish getting out of the blocks but but managed to create the best chance of the first half when Glenn Whelan's pass released Stephen Ward of Bohemians who went past goalkeeper Michael Cordier but hit the side netting from an acute angle.
As Ireland pushed for an equaliser, the impressive Kevin Deery was withdrawn midway through the second half as Givens threw caution to the wind and changed the shape of his team with Andy Keogh, Roy O'Donovan and finally Spurs teenager Dixon all introduced.
His appearance had been hotly anticipated by the sizeable Terryland Park crowd, but while the 16-year-old didn't look out of place in his build-up play, he never found himself in the right position to show his prowess in front of goal.
Instead, the best late chance fell to O'Donovan but he mis-timed his header from Willo Flood's cross.
The latter is amongst those who will now have played their final game at this level should Belgium take even a point from their game with Greece on Tuesday. In truth, the visitors almost doubled their advantage late on the counter attack but goalscorer Martens lost his nerve after rounding keeper Colin Doyle by inexplicably blasting high and wide of an open goal.
IRELAND - Doyle, Foley, Painter, Bruce, McShane, Deery (O'Donovan 78), Whelan, Keegan, Flood, Timlin (Keogh 67), Ward (Dixon 85)
BELGIUM - Cordier, van Audenaerde, Mulemo, Vandelannoite, Wuytens, Overmeire, de Mul (Fellaini-Bakkioui), Blondel, de Smet (Yula Matondo 19), Martens (Haroun 90), van Tornhout
REF - Per Ivar Staberg