In the end, Eden Hazard did not start for Belgium despite rumblings to the contrary over the past couple days, but the Red Devils still managed to pull off the crucial 2-1 victory in Greece to book their spot in next summer’s World Cup in Russia. Other than the hosts, they are the first European team to qualify, joining Brazil, Mexico, Iran, and Japan as guaranteed participants at the controversial tournament.
Belgium struggled for large parts of the game and Hazard did enter the fray for the final quarter of an hour, but by then all the scoring was done, the flurry of three goals in four minutes ending with a well-placed Romelu Lukaku header into the far corner. Jan Vertonghen started the scoring in the 70th minute with a long-range effort, Zeca equalized three minutes later, and Lukaku scored the winner immediately after that. Earlier, Thibaut Courtois pulled off the save of the game to keep the scores level.
Michy Batshuayi did not play once again, but the win guarantees Belgium top spot in Group H, and thus qualification for Russia. Well done, all.
Elsewhere on Sunday, France were shockingly held 0-0 by Luxembourg and their 37-year-old super-goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert! N’Golo Kanté played the full 90 while Kurt Zouma, like Michy, only got to watch from the bench.