'Things I better not say' – Vertonghen critical of Belgium's shock loss to Morocco

By Sports Desk November 27, 2022

Jan Vertonghen was critical of Belgium's performance following a surprise 2-0 defeat to Morocco, referencing things he "better not say".

The Red Devils would have become the second side to clinch their spot in the round of 16 with victory, but they were well short of their best, failing to create opportunities before succumbing to two late goals.

Regarded as the last chance for glory for Belgium's golden generation, Roberto Martinez's side have now lost seven of their last 19 matches across all competitions (W9, D3), as many defeats as they had suffered across their previous 74 games combined (W57, D10).

While Vertonghen feels Belgium were strong for the majority of the clash, he did not shy away from expressing his frustration at the manner in which the opening goal was conceded.

Abdelhamid Sabiri's free-kick to the near post eluded Thibaut Courtois in a carbon copy of a first-half set-piece where Belgium were saved by an offside flag against Romain Saiss.

"We didn't create much. I think we were good overall, we didn't give much away, just an identical goal twice," he told Sporza.

"Twice a resumption of play at the first post. That ball should never go in. The first time we are lucky, but the second time not any more.

"There are a lot of things going through my head that I better not say, or at least not outside [the dressing] rooms.

"It's very frustrating. The first game was not good, and we got away with it well. Not today. I don't think we created any chances."

Defeat to Croatia in the final Group F match on Thursday would result in an early exit from the competition, but Vertonghen believes his side still have the strength in the squad to progress.

"I had the feeling that we were in a good position. We didn't get into trouble. They have a lot of quality in the front. So did we, but with them it came out more," he added.

"After the first match, we thought it could only get better. We were hoping to qualify for the next round today.

"Now we have a difficult final game in which everything will be at stake. The quality in the group is certainly there."

Related items

  • Roma working on solution to Zaniolo saga after apparent Bournemouth snub Roma working on solution to Zaniolo saga after apparent Bournemouth snub

    Roma are targeting a solution to their Nicolo Zaniolo crisis before Tuesday's transfer deadline after the winger was "not very happy" about the prospect of joining Bournemouth.

    The Italy international was strongly linked with Tottenham earlier this month; however, Antonio Conte subsequently signed Arnaut Danjuma on loan from Villarreal as a solution to his wide attacking midfield needs.

    Bournemouth subsequently emerged as frontrunners, with the team third from bottom of the Premier League seeing Zaniolo as a player who could help them to safety in their first campaign back in the top flight.

    Reports suggested Roma and Bournemouth had reached an agreement on a deal worth an initial £26.3million (€30m), but it appears Zaniolo is not sold on the idea of joining the English south-coast club.

    Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has expressed major frustration over Zaniolo asking to leave and then stalling when the opportunity arose, saying it "unfortunately" seemed the 23-year-old would end up staying with the Giallorossi.

    When asked about firm opportunities to sell Zaniolo, Roma general manager Tiago Pinto said on Sunday: "I have no problem answering this question, everyone understood what happened.

    "Zaniolo asked to be sold, and together with the agent we found a solution. We succeeded, but now Nicolo is not very happy with the solution that has arrived, and obviously we are all in a bit of difficulty."

    Last season saw Zaniolo score the only goal of the inaugural Europa Conference League final, as Roma beat Feyenoord, yet his time at the Stadio Olimpico may be up.

    Speaking to DAZN, Pinto said Roma would not be able to buy a player to take Zaniolo's place before sealing the sale of the former Inter youth-team player.

    He, too, is frustrated by Zaniolo's stalling on a transfer, with time at a premium.

    "We found this solution following a request from the player and, as you know, with all the limits that we have with financial fair play we are not exactly a company that can yield to Zaniolo's no and take on other players," Pinto said.

    "We are always bound by those limits. Now we have another 48 hours, let's see what happens. I don't want to dwell on this issue, it is really a difficult situation for us."

  • Gordon explains Newcastle move to Everton fans: 'I know many won't understand' Gordon explains Newcastle move to Everton fans: 'I know many won't understand'

    Anthony Gordon penned an emotional message to the Everton fans after leaving his boyhood club for Newcastle United in a £45milion transfer on Sunday.

    In his post, hours after joining Newcastle, the England Under-21 winger acknowledged many Toffees supporters will not forgive him.

    Gordon played a key part in Everton achieving Premier League survival last season, but he failed to live up to those standards as the team struggled again this term.

    Having been linked with moves to Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham at the start of the campaign, Gordon came in for particular abuse from sections of the Everton support.

    Social media footage showed Gordon's car being held up outside Goodison Park following a recent home defeat to relegation rivals Southampton.

    Gordon has now secured an exit to high-flying Newcastle and is excited about his "next chapter", but a message on his Twitter page paid tribute to Everton staff, team-mates and fans.

    "I came to this club at the age of 11, and not only did it give me a place to play football, but it gave me a second family," he wrote.

    "The club has shaped me into the footballer and more importantly the person I am today. It has given me everything I could have asked for and more."

    He added: "Last year felt so surreal because all of my childhood dreams were becoming reality. I wish I could relive some of [those] days, but I'll settle for the memories, which will last a lifetime for me.

    "To the fans, you gave me some of the best nights of my life. You made me a better player. I have always thrived off your energy, and you always made me run harder and faster.

    "There [have] been some difficult moments this year, but I never took any of it personally; stick by the team because they need you."

    Gordon, who said he would "miss everyone deeply", continued: "I love this club and I always have from the day I joined, but the time has come for me to leave.

    "I know many won't understand, but the next chapter awaits. I will always wish the best for this club and always be watching on.

    "From the bottom of my heart, thank you and good luck."

  • Newcastle complete £45m swoop for Gordon as Everton sell youngster Newcastle complete £45m swoop for Gordon as Everton sell youngster

    Anthony Gordon has completed his move from Everton to Newcastle United.

    Newcastle are reportedly paying £40million up front to Everton, with an additional £5m payable in potential add-ons.

    Gordon was the subject of intense interest from Chelsea at the start of this season, but Everton rejected their advances and had been hoping to tie the young forward to a new deal.

    However, Newcastle and Tottenham also enquired over the 21-year-old, and the Magpies solidified their interest this month.

    Gordon has signed what has been described as a "long-term" contract at St James' Park, becoming Newcastle's first signing of the January transfer window as Eddie Howe's team look to push on for Champions League qualification.

    The new recruit said: "Since I heard of the interest, I was always convinced Newcastle were for me."

    Speaking to NUFC TV, Gordon added: "I think the fan base and the city really suits me as a person, the way the team are playing under the gaffer at the minute really suits me, and the club just look like they're heading in the right direction.

    "I feel like it's a really big step. People haven't seen what I'm capable of yet. I think under the gaffer, and the way the club's going, I can really excel here."

    Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe expects big things, saying: "I'm delighted to sign Anthony – he's a top, top talent.

    "I'm really excited to work with him, to develop him, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in a Newcastle shirt."

    Gordon's time at Everton ended disappointingly. The academy graduate performed well last season as the Toffees avoided relegation under Frank Lampard, but despite starting this campaign with two goals in the opening five Premier League games, his subsequent performances have been inconsistent.

    He missed training on Tuesday in what Stats Perform understands was a pre-authorised absence and was also absent from Finch Farm on Wednesday and Thursday, before returning to Everton's base on Friday.

    Cash-strapped Everton are 19th and sacked Lampard on Monday, with Sean Dyche being tipped to be named as his replacement, and Gordon was confronted by a group of fans outside Goodison Park following a 2-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Southampton on January 14.

    Gordon is Everton's joint-leading league scorer this term, with three goals, but he has created just eight chances for team-mates and has not provided an assist, recording just 0.5 expected assists across 16 appearances.

    Only Demarai Gray (51) has attempted more dribbles in Everton's squad than Gordon (41), but England Under-21 international Gordon has completed just 10 of those.

    Gordon has had 26 shots, second only to Gray among Everton players, and his tally of 16 on target tops the charts.

    Howe will believe he can rekindle Gordon's best form as he aims to add further spark to Newcastle's attack, having allowed Chris Wood to join Nottingham Forest.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.