25th March, 2019
It was a very perfect setting for a very hard-working player who is presently enjoying his best season so far for both club and country as he scores a beautiful goal to mark his 100th appearance in his country’s colours as a footballer.
This was the case as Eden Hazard marked his 100th international appearance with a goal as he propelled his country, Belgium to a very comfortable 2-0 victory over Cyprus in Nicosia on Sunday to consolidate on their winning start to Euro 2020 qualifying.
A lot of attention was focused on Chelsea star Hazard due to the significance of his becoming only the third Belgian to reach a century of caps and he did not disappoint, as he led the way to Belgium adding to Thursday’s 3-1 win over Russia.
The Chelsea play-maker gave the visitors an early lead with his usual tidy finish for his 30th goal in a Belgium shirt and Michy Batshuayi doubled the advantage eight minutes later.
The Belgian team never looked in danger of relinquishing their lead as Roberto Martinez’s men secured an early three-point cushion at the top of Group I.
They were contained by the hosts for just 10 minutes as the ball broke kindly for Hazard just inside the box and he curled a fine effort inside the right-hand post.
Belgium secured the game soon after as Thorgan Hazard chipped a clever pass over the defence for Batshuayi who easily found the net after skipping past the goalkeeper.
This visitors thereafter seemed to play within themselves, failing to offer much urgency or killer instinct in the final third.
This was evident in the way Timothy Castagne and Youri Tielemans both wasted good chances as they put the ball wide of the left-hand post in the first 10 minutes of the second half, while Batshuayi was blocked by an excellent last-ditch Anthony Georgiou tackle when seemingly through on goal with a quarter of the match left to play.
Cyprus who defeated San Marino 5-0 in their first game, nearly pulled one back two minutes from time, but Kostas Laifis headed on to the roof of the net and that was their final opportunity.
After playing two games, Belgium already look as though they are going simply enjoy themselves in Group I. After comfortable victory against Russia last time out, followed by another easy win in Cyprus, with Kazakhstan, Scotland and San Marino making up the rest of the pool – qualification seems a certainty.
With the rest of their scheduled opposition in San Marino, Scotland and Kazakhstan, one can surely expect Belgium to qualify with maximum points.
Of note in this match is the fact that Batshuayi not only scored a goal but also led the line to good effect, dropping deep and moving out wide when he had to, while he also linked well with his fellow attackers. Only stubborn defending denied him a second goal.
As far as Dries Mertens was concerned, he was surely without doubt the quietest of Belgium’s attacking unit, having precious little impact in the first half. He was unsurprisingly withdrawn just before the hour.