Belgium Defeat Gibraltar in 9-0 2018 World Cup Qualifier Rout

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2017

(From L) Gibraltar's Jason Pusey, Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and Gibraltar's Roy Chipolina vie for the ball during the WC 2018 football qualification football match between Belgium and Gilbratlar, at the Dufrasne Stadium, on August 31, 2017 in Sclessin.  / AFP PHOTO / Belga / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT        (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
DIRK WAEM/Getty Images

Belgium defeated Gibraltar 9-0 in UEFA Group H of FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying in Liege, as the Red Devils equalled their goalscoring record on Thursday.

The hosts were four goals up after just 27 minutes of play, as the visitors expectedly collapsed on their travels.

Dries Mertens opened the floodgates, and strikes from Thomas Meunier, Romelu Lukaku and Axel Witsel started the onslaught.

Witsel saw a straight red for a tackle on Jamie Bosio, but it didn't stop the Belgian machine from rolling on.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 31:  Axel Witsel of Belgium is show a red card by referee, Neil Doyle during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Belgium and Gibraltar at Stade Maurice Dufrasne on August 31, 2017 in Liege, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtar
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Lukaku and Eden Hazard made it 6-0 at the half-time whistle, and Gibraltar were clearly shellshocked and damaged.

Meunier struck twice after the interval to complete his hat-trick, making it 8-0, and Lukaku was presented his treble after Erin Barnett brought down Kevin De Bruyne in the box. 

Barnett was given a red for the challenge, and Lukaku slotted home with calm and ease.

Hazard returned for his first match after a summer of recovery, having previously suffered injury for Belgium that delayed his start to the Premier League season.

The hosts were quickly out of the traps as Gibraltar immediately suffered, and Mertens was credited with the goal as stopper Deren Ibrahim put the ball in his own net after just 15 minutes. The goal saw Belgium score three in six minutes, with Meunier and Lukaku finishing with aplomb.

Belgium's Thomas Meunier (R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying football match between Belgium and Gibraltar, at the Dufrasne Stadium, on August 31, 2017 in Sclessin, outside Liege.  / AFP PHOTO / BELGA /
BRUNO FAHY/Getty Images

Witsel followed up with a spectacular overhead kick after 27 minutes, with the ball rifling past the goalkeeper at pace.

Witsel's celebrations were cut short towards the end of the half as he was given his marching orders for his challenge on Bosio.

Lukaku grabbed his brace as Belgium reorganised, and Hazard added his name to the scoresheet on the stroke of half-time.

Squawka News highlighted a crazy first half:

Gibraltar did not improve after the interval, and the hosts were immediately back on the accelerator. 

Meunier grabbed his second on the hour mark, and the marauding full-back collected a hat-trick with a beautiful finish at the far post seven minutes later to make it 8-0.

Gibraltar were collectively a rabbit in the headlights, as the Belgians danced and dazzled.

The night was capped off by Lukaku who tucked away his hat-trick from the penalty spot after De Bruyne was brought down in the area.

Bleacher Report's Gianni Verschueren commented as the full-time whistle blew:

The visitors showed they are nowhere near the level needed against top European nations, and the scoreline could have been much worse if Belgium had taken all of the chances they created.

Lukaku was lethal at No. 9, and the Manchester United striker is well on his way to becoming his country's all-time top scorer after a successful night.

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