Roberto Martinez hailed record-breaker Christian Benteke after the striker hit the first goal of a hat-trick in a 6-0 win for Belgium against Gibraltar on Monday after just seven seconds
Belgium extended their 100 per cent record in Group H by recording a third straight victory without conceding, while Benteke’s treble gave the striker his first international goals since March 2015.
Benteke opened the scoring after just seven seconds, setting a new record for the fastest goal in World Cup qualifying, with Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens and Eden Hazard also on target, and Martinez was delighted with the forward’s impact.
“That goal really showed the concentration of the group,” he told broadcaster RTBF. “It was our goal to score early and we were rewarded quickly with a world record.
“In football, it’s good to make history. Christian has worked very hard, especially defensively. He had a complicated pre-season with the change of clubs [from Liverpool to Crystal Palace], but now he finds his shape.”
A modest Benteke played down his role in the victory, noting Gibraltar were a poor standard of opposition despite a fine performance from the hosts’ goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim, who kept the score down.
“It would have been a little different if I had scored a hat-trick against a big team,” Benteke said. “But I will not spit in the soup. I’ll take the hat-trick. I’ll try to prolong my current form and continue it with my club.
“I do not think I’m the hero of the game. The most important thing was to have fun.
“My first goal? The goal was to hurry up for the first 20 minutes. The defender anticipates wrong, I passed him and I do not ask questions.
“I feel good in recent weeks. I want to keep moving forward.”
The attitude of Belgium’s team also impressed Martinez, who has overseen a run of successive competitive victories after his players were booed off by fans following a 2-0 loss to Spain in his first match in charge.
“We were very professional,” said Martinez. “I really appreciated the attitude of the players. It was a test of their character.
“The way in which we started the match was really good and then we continued for 90 minutes to be very professional.
“We played for each other, we were not too selfish. The players maintained their level during the entire match. I congratulate everyone because we were very disciplined.”
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