Belgium's Starting to Look Like Belgium Again
Perhaps this relatively young side had bought into all the press clippings.
For a while there, it seemed like Belgium thought all that was needed in Euro 2016's group stage was to throw a collective jock on the pitch and be awarded trois points.
However, the Italians sorted out that fallacy in a hurry.
With an exclamation point, even:
In essence, this meant there was no margin for error for Les Diables Rouges'-- or De Rode Duivels if you favor Flemish -- in their remaining Group E matches.
Dudes definitely took care of business against the Republic of Ireland, dominating to the tune of a 3-0 scorching.
This match was never a problem. The Irish, realists that they are, put their efforts into securing a draw, but Belgium was on a mission.
Romelu Lukaku brought his A game, which included this timely feat just after the half:
No wonder the big clubs are after him.
13 minutes later, Axel Witsel touched the ball with his 'fro:
In this day and age when concussion concerns have even reached into this version of football, dude may be on to something with a bit -- OK, a lot -- of natural padding.
Ireland saw the writing on the wall after that, and while they were looking, Lukaka scored his second:
Next up for the Belgians: Zlatan Ibrohimović and his Swedish buds on Wed 22 Jun.
Unless Ireland pulls out leprechauns and four-leaf clovers to shock Italy, Belgium only needs a draw to advance. Clearly, Sweden has other designs, and after playing the Azzura straight up, they've got reason to believe.
But with the Red Devils firing on all cylinders, it'll be a tall order.