EURO 2016: Belgium deliver a hammer blow to Republic of Ireland hopes


Belgium's Romelu Lukaku scored his sides third goal against the Republic of Ireland

Romelu Lukaku finally got Belgium’s Euro 2016 up and running as one of the pre-tournament favourites derailed the Republic of Ireland’s hopes of an extended adventure in France with a 3-0 win.

The Everton hitman struck twice in succession either side of Axel Witsel’s 61st-minute header as the Belgians put their opening loss to Italy behind them and began to live up to their ranking as the second best team in the world.

Marc Wilmots’ men simply had too much for Ireland, who barely landed a blow at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux with Belgium dominating possession from the off and forcing them on to the back foot.

But Ireland could find neither the defensive resilience, nor a cutting edge further up the field to trouble a team packed with household names, and while the Belgians will need just a point against Sweden in their final Group E game on Wednesday to secure second spot, the Republic will need to beat Italy in Lille to stand any chance of progressing.