Belgium capitalised on Jackie Burns’ red card with 21 minutes to play as Northern Ireland lost their sole Euro 2022 warm-up 4-1 in Lier.
Tessa Wullaert gave Belgium the lead on 24 minutes before Lauren Wade’s superb equaliser.
Goalkeeper Burns was sent off on 69 minutes for fouling captain Wullaert outside the area.
Belgium made the most of their advantage through Ella van Kerkhoven, Wullaert and Laura Rafferty’s own goal.
Kenny Shiels’ side begin their Euro 2022 campaign – a maiden major tournament for Northern Ireland – against Norway on 7 July at St Mary’s before taking on Austria and England in Southampton.
Belgium, ranked 19th in the world and some 28 places above Northern Ireland, take on Iceland, France and Italy in Group D.
Burns red card hits NI
After Wade’ brilliant left-footed strike cancelled out Wullaert’s opener it was a more sedate start to the second half, which turned in the Belgians’ favour when goalkeeper Burns was sent off with 21 minutes to play.
Substitute Van Kerkhoven split NI’s defence and Burns hesitated before rushing out towards Wullaert, who knocked the ball around the goalkeeper before being fouled outside the area.
Burns was shown a straight red card and replacement goalkeeper Becky Flaherty was called upon in place of goalscorer Wade.
Brighouse Town stopper Flaherty was called into action as she reacted well to smother the ball when Wullaert raced through on goal, however she was beaten with eight minutes to play when Van Kerkhoven headed home a cross from Elena Dhont, who had twice gone close prior to the red card after showing superb footwork in the area.
Wullaert grabbed her second and Belgium’s third four minutes later when the captain stroked home an inch-perfect effort from the edge of the area, and Ives Serneels’ side punished NI further when Rafferty put into her own net in injury-time after Flaherty had saved Feli Delacauw’s initial header.
It was a harsh ending for Northern Ireland, without injured captain Marissa Callaghan, after a solid display with 11 players and their attentions will turn to their Euro 2022 opener with Norway.
Wade’s wonder strike cancels out Wullaert opener
Prior to kick-off Shiels had spoken about his desire for more than one warm-up match ahead of Northern Ireland’s maiden major tournament. It was the visitors who started the brighter side under the setting Lier sun as Kirsty McGuinness’ ambitious effort was pushed away by Nicky Evrard in the home goal.
However, the Red Flames grew into the half and Wullaert’s effort bounced off the outside of the post after Sarah McFadden’s swing and miss failed to connect with the ball, however the Belgian captain made no mistake with her next opportunity.
Tine de Caigny cut open the Northern Ireland defence with a clinical pass between Julie Nelson and Abbie Magee, which allowed Davina Philtjens to find the unmarked Wullaert and the forward made no mistake for her 66th international goal.
Northern Ireland pushed for an immediate response with two corners that were dealt with by Evrard, however they had a let-off at the other end when Nelson’s half clearance fell to Hannah Eurlings but the forward could only fire over from the edge of the area.
McGuinness had another snap shot from the edge of the area, but Northern Ireland got the goal they deserved when Wade stepped up with a superb effort on the stroke of half-time.
Winger McGuinness flicked the ball across the edge of the area and Wade reacted quickest and launched a first-time effort into the top corner beyond the diving Evrard, sending Northern Ireland in level at the break.
- 19KeesSubstituted forDhontat 45′minutes
- 4TysiakSubstituted forDelacauwat 85′minutes
- 18De Neve
- 11CaymanSubstituted forDelooseat 66′minutes
- 10VanhaevermaetSubstituted forMissipoat 78′minutes
- 7EurlingsSubstituted forVanmechelenat 66′minutes
- 6De CaignySubstituted forVan Kerkhovenat 78′minutes
- 3Van Kerkhoven
- 1BurnsBooked at 69mins
- 5NelsonSubstituted forRaffertyat 45′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 4McFaddenSubstituted forHollowayat 66′minutes
- 13BurrowsSubstituted forHuttonat 79′minutes
- 10FurnessSubstituted forMcCarronat 65′minutes
- 14WadeSubstituted forFlahertyat 71′minutes
- 11McGuinnessSubstituted forWilsonat 45′minutes
Match ends, Belgium Women 4, Northern Ireland Women 1.
Second Half ends, Belgium Women 4, Northern Ireland Women 1.
Corner, Belgium Women. Conceded by Becky Flaherty.
Attempt saved. Tessa Wullaert (Belgium Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Féli Delacauw.
Own Goal by Laura Rafferty, Northern Ireland Women. Belgium Women 4, Northern Ireland Women 1.
Attempt saved. Tessa Wullaert (Belgium Women) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Davinia Vanmechelen with a cross.
Laura Rafferty (Northern Ireland Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Elena Dhont (Belgium Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Laura Rafferty (Northern Ireland Women).
Corner, Belgium Women. Conceded by Laura Rafferty.
Goal! Belgium Women 3, Northern Ireland Women 1. Tessa Wullaert (Belgium Women) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner.
Substitution, Belgium Women. Féli Delacauw replaces Amber Tysiak.
Foul by Laura Deloose (Belgium Women).
Emily Wilson (Northern Ireland Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Belgium Women 2, Northern Ireland Women 1. Ella Van Kerkhoven (Belgium Women) header from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Elena Dhont with a cross.
Attempt missed. Davinia Vanmechelen (Belgium Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Julie Biesmans.
Substitution, Northern Ireland Women. Ashley Hutton replaces Kelsie Burrows.
Substitution, Belgium Women. Ella Van Kerkhoven replaces Tine De Caigny.
Substitution, Belgium Women. Kassandra Missipo replaces Justine Vanhaevermaet.
Attempt saved. Tessa Wullaert (Belgium Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Tine De Caigny with a through ball.