Marouane Fellaini double helps Belgium crush Cyprus
Marouane Fellaini struck twice as Belgium moved within three points of Euro 2016 Group B qualifying leaders Wales with a 5-0 thumping of Cyprus on Saturday.
BRUSSELS: Marouane Fellaini struck twice as Belgium moved within three points of Euro 2016 Group B qualifying leaders Wales with a 5-0 thumping of Cyprus on Saturday.
After a win and two draws from their first three matches, Belgium knew the pressure was on to produce a performance befitting a side ranked fourth in the world.
"The players enjoyed themselves and knew what to do. Yes, I`m satisfied," Belgian coach Marc Wilmots told reporters.
The hosts, who reached the quarter-finals of last year`s World Cup, were 2-0 up at halftime although they could easily have been four or five ahead against a packed but often porous Cypriot defence.
Manchester United midfielder Fellaini opened Belgium`s account midway through the first half after the visitors failed to clear a corner. A cross by Eden Hazard then set up Christian Benteke to make it 2-0 in the 35th minute.
Fellaini found the top corner with a perfectly placed long-range strike in the 66th minute but that effort was matched a minute later by Hazard.
With two defenders in front of him, the Chelsea playmaker shifted cleverly to the right before curling the ball into the net off the inside of the far post.
Debutant Michy Batshuayi completed the demolition in the 80th minute after the hard-working Radja Nainggolan dispossessed a defender.
Cyprus, who beat Bosnia 2-1 in September, were without six injured players and barely mounted an attack with a single off-target header in the second half proving their only threat.
"We lost to the better team. Belgium is one of the best in the world," said Cyprus coach Charalambos Christodoulou.
"We have to forget this game. We knew from the start it would be difficult to get something away against Belgium.
Belgium on Tuesday play Israel who were knocked off the top of the group after a 3-0 home defeat by Wales on Saturday.
Belgium have eight points from four games, Israel nine from four and Wales are on 11 points having played five matches.