A goal and two assists from Kevin De Bruyne lifted Belgium past struggling Euro 2024 hosts Germany, winning 3-2 in a friendly in Cologne on Tuesday.
De Bruyne set up two goals to give his side a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes, before scoring one of his own late in the second to deepen Germany’s woes ahead of next year’s European Championship on home soil.
“We were too restrained, too passive, and we weren’t able to put the opponent under pressure,” Germany coach Hansi Flick told TV network RTL, saying “Belgium played mercilessly”.
Germany are hoping to find some form after recent uncharacteristic early exits from major tournaments.
A second successive World Cup group-stage exit in Qatar last year followed a last-16 loss to England at Euro 2020.
Belgium’s German-raised coach Domenico Tedesco pushed Yannick Carrasco up front in place of Arsenal’s Leandro Trossard and the move paid immediate dividends, with the Atletico Madrid winger blasting in on the counter just six minutes in.
Romelu Lukaku, scorer of all three goals in Belgium’s 3-0 romp against Sweden in Euro qualifying on Friday, then smashed in a left-footed effort to double the lead, the goal again assisted by De Bruyne.
With three first-choice central defenders out, a rattled Germany looked all but certain to concede a third.
The introduction of Emre Can, who replaced the injured Leon Goretzka midway through the first half, brought the home side some desperately needed stability.
Germany were on the board soon after when Niclas Fuellkrug converted a penalty awarded for a Lukaku handball, giving the late-blooming Werder Bremen striker his sixth goal in six international appearances.
Belgium’s incisiveness eluded them in the second half as Germany pushed for an equaliser but they were unable to break through, coming closest when Timo Werner had a goal chalked off for offside.
De Bruyne sealed the result with just over 10 minutes remaining with a one-touch finish assisted by Trossard to complete a memorable captain’s performance.
Serge Gnabry gave Germany hope of a draw when he scored with three minutes remaining but the visitors held on for a morale boosting win.
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