An­other win for Bel­gium, Greece heads for World Cup play­offs

Bel­gium chas­ing Euro­pean record of 43 goals in qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

ATHENS: Eden Haz­ard fired Bel­gium to its fifth straight World Cup qual­i­fy­ing vic­tory, scor­ing twice for a 4-0 win in Cyprus on Tues­day, while Greece also beat Gi­bral­tar 4-0 to edge Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina for a place in the play­offs.

Haz­ard raised Bel­gium’s goal tally fur­ther, open­ing the scor­ing in the 12th minute after team­mate Youri Tiele­mans poached the ball off de­fend­ers. It was a night for the Chelsea star’s fam­ily to shine. He scored a penalty in the sec­ond half, and brother Thor­gan also found the net, cel­e­brat­ing his first goal for Bel­gium when he was able to tap in a re­bound.

Bel­gium was chas­ing the Euro­pean record of 43 for most goals in a qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion, ei­ther for a World Cup or Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, which Ger­many had just set in its qual­i­fy­ing group. In the 78th minute Romelu Lukaku - re­turn­ing from in­jury - equaled the mark when he ran on to a long ball, shrugged off a hap­less de­fender and scored with a low drive, his 11th goal in qual­i­fy­ing. Cap­tain Jan Ver­tonghen ap­peared in his 97th in­ter­na­tional to be­come the most-capped Bel­gian in­ter­na­tional, with pre­vi­ous record holder Jan Ceule­mans ap­plaud­ing from the stands.

“It was a good game for us. We could have scored five or six, but the score isn’t really that im­por­tant,” said Bel­gium coach Roberto Mar­tinez, who rested sev­eral key play­ers be­fore end­ing the 10-game qual­i­fi­ca­tion run with 28 out of the pos­si­ble 30 points. “We saw was a will­ing­ness to work hard and play well,” he said.

GREECE REACHES PLAY­OFFS Greece ini­tially dis­played weak­ness in at­tack, but Gi­bral­tar even­tu­ally tired and con­ceded three times in the sec­ond half for the 4-0 loss, fin­ish­ing with no points after 10 games in Group H. “We have re­bounded from a bad spell and we are back in form,” said Greece cap­tain Vas­silis Toro­sidis, who opened the scor­ing in the 32nd minute, meet­ing a cross from Car­los Zeca with an ath­letic header.

Kostas Mitroglou scored twice in the sec­ond half, strik­ing within two min­utes, and Ioan­nis Gian­nio­tas added the fourth. Bos­nia could only hope for a group up­set, but stayed be­hind Greece de­spite a 2-1 win in Es­to­nia.

Be­fore the start of the match Tallinn’s Le Coq Arena was lit­tered with flares near the away-fan en­clo­sure, set­ting the at­mos­phere for a tense game. The Bos­ni­ans pressed hard de­spite the dwin­dling odds of qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Izet Ha­jrovic got both goals for Bos­nia, while Ilja Antonov scored for the hosts. Casert re­ported from Brus­sels, Bel­gium. — AP

We have re­bounded from a bad spell and back in form

PI­RAEUS PORT: Greece’s Kyr­i­akos Pa­padopou­los heads the ball dur­ing the World Cup Group H qual­i­fy­ing soc­cer match be­tween Greece and Gi­bral­tar at Ge­or­gios Karaskaikis sta­dium in Pi­raeus port, near Athens.— AP

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