Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Belgium first Euro qualifier for World Cup 2018

Published:Monday | September 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku kneels on the pitch at the end of the World Cup UEFA Group H qualifying football match between Greece and Belgium at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus port, near Athens, yesterday. Belgium won 2-1.

Romelu Lukaku was on target yesterday to give Belgium a 2-1 win over Greece and a place at next year's World Cup.

The UEFA Group H fixture was goalless until the 70th minute, when Jan Vertonghen blasted the visitors into the lead with a fierce shot.

Greece responded three minutes later through Zeca, but only one more minute passed before Belgium retook the lead thanks to Lukaku's header. It was the Manchester United forward's 10th goal of the qualifying campaign.

Victory leaves the Belgians top with an unassailable eight-point lead over second-place Bosnia and Herzegovina. That makes Belgium the first European team confirmed for the World Cup besides host nation Russia.

Belgium are unbeaten in qualifying, with seven wins and a 1-1 draw at home to Greece in March.

The Belgians have scored 35 goals and conceded just three in a group where they were considered the overwhelming favourites.

Two goals from Edin Dzeko helped the Bosnians beat Gibraltar 4-0 to leapfrog Greece into second place. Belgium have 22 points, Bosnia and Herzegovina 14, Greece 13 and Cyprus 10.

Cyprus' hopes of qualifying took another blow in a 1-0 loss away to Estonia, due to Mattias Kait's winning goal in the dying seconds.

Estonia are fifth with eight points, while last-place Gibraltar have lost all eight matches.

- AP