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Prickly Wilmots deflects Belgium criticism after Italy defeat

Football Soccer - Belgium v Italy - EURO 2016 - Group E - Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France - 13/6/16 Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach Livepic
Football Soccer - Belgium v Italy - EURO 2016 - Group E - Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France - 13/6/16Belgium head coach Marc WilmotsREUTERS/Kai PfaffenbachLivepic

BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - Belgium coach Marc Wilmots reacted in prickly fashion to a flood of criticism after a 2-0 loss to Italy on Monday called into question his team's credentials at Euro 2016.

“The press have been praising me for four years and to now tear me down after a single game is easy, right? And now suddenly I’m a bad coach?” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“I have to laugh at some of the criticism at our tactics. Having looked back at the game we deserved at least a draw. We had a couple of enormous chances to bring it back to 1-1.

"We knew we wouldn’t get too many opportunities but after the first goal they sat back and if you don’t score yourself then it becomes difficult,” he added as Belgium completed a light training session at their base at Le Haillan following their Group E defeat in Lyon. There was a barrage of criticism from media, pundits and fans in Belgium after an unconvincing performance.

Even goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois joined in, telling reporters: “Belgium were tactically outclassed." Wilmots said he thought Courtois's comment was made "in the heat of battle".

"Logically he was frustrated after letting in two goals," said Wilmots. "Courtois said it was not aimed at me.”

Wilmots said midfielder Radja Nainggolan had apologised after showing his frustrations after being substituted.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)

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