Goals galore for Belgium?

The Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels was (almost) packed to the rafters for what promised to be a goal fest.

Despite the cold and rain, Belgian fans turned out in their thousands to see the mighty Belgium play against lowly Estonia. Large red sponge hands were given out to the fans on arrival, and this led to a carnival atmosphere before the match kicked off as their vocal cheerleader bellowed out chants over the p.a system.

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The Red Devils would be assured of qualification for the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar should they beat Estonia. This was expected to be a formality, but without their star striker, Romelu Lukaku, missing due to an injury, Roberto Martinez was taking no chances naming Eden Hazard as captain for the night.

Fortunately for Belgium, it was Christian Benteke who was there to step up and score what was his first goal in two years for his country. The Crystal Palace forward pounced as a ‘keeping error from Matvei Igonen saw the ball squirm under his arm allowing Benteke to score.

Christian Benteke celebrates scoring the first goal.

The Estonian ‘keeper was fearing a deluge of shots from the in-form Belgium team, and it was only a few minutes later when he was called in to provide a top-corner save from a powerful Kevin De Bruyne free-kick. Fortunately for Estonia, Matvei Igonen made up for his earlier mistake with a fabulous save. Eleven minutes in and still only 1-0 to Belgium.

Eden Hazard, captain for the night

Belgium continued to press Estonian searching for the second goal, Eden Hazard, captain for the night was constantly harassing the defence, yet despite having 80% of the possession it was still only 1-0 when the teams went in at half-time. The fans were getting restless in the cold night and roared on their team immediately from the second half kick off.

Matvei Igonen saves Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick

The Red Devil’s cheerleader was becoming increasingly, and annoyingly vocal as Belgium pressed home their advantage. Fortunately, it was not too long before Belgium scored their second goal on 53 minutes. Their constant pressure reaped rewards when Yannick Carrasco scored from the edge of the penalty area, with what was an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Yannick Carrasco scores for Belgium

2-1 to Belgium and the next 15 minutes saw the newly introduced Thorgan Hazard continue where his substituted brother had left off. Constantly taunting the Estonian defence, always harrying and hustling the Red Devils, but to no avail. It could be said that they were constantly trying to pass the ball into the net when more conviction could have settled the match long ago.

Thorgan Hazard in action

Against the run of play Rauno Sappinen, on 70 minutes saw Thibaut Courtois parry his shot thus allowing Erik Sorga the opportunity to score. It was now 2-1 and the Belgium fans were suddenly aware that this match might not be as easy as first thought.

Fortunately for Belgium, Thorgan Hazard managed to head in a De Bruyne cross to seal the match at 3-1. Matvei Igonen was probably the unsung hero of the match, with continual saves that kept the score respectable but ultimately went home a loser.

Belgium now sits comfortably five points clear of Wales in Group E with one match to play. Let’s hope that they can finally live up to their billing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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