Belgium Defeats Cyprus 4-0 in 2018 World Cup Qualifier; Eden Hazard Earns Brace

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2017

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring during the World Cup 2018 Group H qualifying soccer match between Belgium and Cyprus at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Olivier Matthys/Associated Press

Belgium defeated Cyprus in their final match of FIFA World Cup qualifying, as the UEFA Group H winners prevailed 4-0 on Tuesday.

Eden Hazard opened the scoring with a curling effort after 12 minutes, but the visitors kept the score to a single goal in the first half as Belgium pushed forward.

Thorgan Hazard doubled the lead shortly after half-time, tapping home from close range for his first international goal.

Eden Hazard doubled his haul from the penalty spot to cap a fine night for the Belgians, with Romelu Lukaku rising from the bench to add a superb fourth.

Belgium made it nine wins out of 10 qualifying matches, and will be one of the World Cup favourites in Russia next summer.

The Red Devils provided their starting XI:

Vincent Laban supported Pieros Sotiriou in attack for Cyprus, but as expected, they struggled to create.

There was a celebratory feeling in the King Baudouin Stadium as Belgium took to the field, with no tangible pressure on their players.

It didn't take the home side long to break the deadlock as Eden Hazard collected the ball in midfield. The Chelsea attacker sweetly struck his effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box, sparking jubilant scenes.

Cyprus' defender Fanos Katelaris (L) vies with Belgium's midfielder Eden Hazard during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Belgium and Cyprus, at the King Baudouin Stadium, on October 10, 2017 in Brussels. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS
JOHN THYS/Getty Images

Thorgan Hazard soon went close to emulating his brother's strike, but goalkeeper Constantinos Panagi was equal to the task.

Cyprus did a good job of limiting the Belgian attack, and with Lukaku left on the bench, the home side lacked their usual bite.

The visitors held on until half-time, but it took Belgium just seven minutes to score after the restart.

Michy Batshuayi tormented the Cypriot defence, shooting from range, only to see Panagi parry his effort. The ball fell at the feet of Thorgan Hazard, who tapped home to open his account for his country.

It was 3-0 shortly after the hour mark as Eden Hazard grabbed his brace from the penalty spot. Giorgos Merkis was adjudged to have handled the ball, and the Chelsea superstar stepped up to slot his effort home with grace.

Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku (R) celebrates after scoring during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Belgium and Cyprus, at the King Baudouin Stadium, on October 10, 2017 in Brussels. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS        (Photo credi
JOHN THYS/Getty Images

Cyprus were beaten after the hour mark, and Belgium brought on Lukaku from the bench.

The Manchester United striker took no time to get into the match, and he found the back of the net with 12 minutes remaining.

Lukaku latched on to a simple long ball from Axel Witsel, and he clinically finished as he burst into the penalty area.

Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur noted the score as he highlighted the key points of the night:

Lukaku could have scored a hat-trick in the closing stages as he pummelled the Cypriots with pace and power, but the striker failed to find the net again.

Belgium are one of the best teams on the planet, and with an axis of Lukaku and Eden Hazard, the side will go far when the World Cup finals begin next summer.

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