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Andorra 1 Belgium 4: Wilmots´ men secure Euro 2016 spot

Belgium cruised to a 4-1 away victory over Andorra on Saturday, sealing their qualification for Euro 2016.

Radja Nainggolan’s deflected effort gave Marc Wilmots’ men the lead, before Kevin De Bruyne struck with a stunning free-kick just before half-time.

Alarm bells were briefly ringing after the break when Andorra’s record goalscorer Ildefons Lima netted a penalty, but Belgium quickly responded with a spot-kick of their own, scored by stand-in captain Eden Hazard.

Laurent Depoitre made it four with a close-range finish, before Hazard missed a chance to net his second penalty of the match as his effort was saved in the closing stages.

After reaching the World Cup quarter-finals in 2014, Belgium will now play in the Euros for the first time in four tournaments as their international resurgence continues.

It was the home side who threatened first when Jordi Rubio’s effort deflected into the arms of away goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

The visitors were soon piling on the pressure, though, with Hazard drifting inside and smashing a left-footed effort narrowly wide.

In another opportunity, Dries Mertens dribbled infield at pace from the right and Ferran Pol did well to push his effort over the crossbar.

The breakthrough was coming for Belgium and it arrived through Nainggolan. The Roma midfielder picked up a pass from Jordan Lukaku outside the box and let fly, with his effort taking a wicked deflection off Marc Rebes on its way in.

Marcio Vieira fired a tame free-kick straight at Mignolet for the hosts, while De Bruyne could only clip the outside of the post from close-range after being cleverly slipped through by Hazard.

But the Manchester City star found his range superbly moments later. After Hazard had won a free-kick 25 yards from goal, De Bruyne dispatched a perfect effort in off the post.

Depoitre then forced Pol to save sharply with a clever flick-on as Belgium went into half-time with a two-goal lead.

Andorra made a stunning impact five minutes into the second half, though, with Victor Moreira drawing a reckless foul by Jan Vertonghen in the box and Lima sending Mignolet the wrong way from the spot for his 10th international goal.

But the hosts shot themselves in the foot almost immediately when captain Oscar Sonejee foolishly jumped up to handle Mertens’ corner and Hazard calmly rolled home the spot-kick – his fifth goal in seven internationals.

It was four for the visitors on 64 minutes. Mertens raced down the right and whipped in a perfect cross for Depoitre, who applied the finishing touch to mark his international debut with a goal.

Another handball in the penalty area – this time from Gabriel Riera as he attempted to block Vertonghen’s header – gave Hazard another opportunity from the spot, but this time Pol got down to save what was a poor effort from the Chelsea man.

That was not enough to break Belgian spirits, though, as they celebrated having booked their ticket to France with their large travelling support after the final whistle.

Sat 10 Oct, 2015
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