Monday, November 29, 2021

Belgium 3-1 Estonia: Red Devils clinch spot at 2022 World Cup

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Nov 2021

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Belgium clinched their spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a routine 3-1 victory over Estonia in their penultimate qualifier.

Roberto Martinez’s men were predictably in control throughout the Group E encounter, Christian Benteke’s simple finish putting them on course for victory inside a quarter of an hour.

The Red Devils peppered the Estonia goal to no avail for the rest of the first half before Yannick Carrasco, having played a part in the opener, thrashed home a second in the 53rd minute.

Erik Sorga pulled one back for the group’s second-bottom side but Thorgan Hazard, after replacing brother Eden, restored Belgium’s two-goal advantage, their five-point lead at the summit ensuring they will be at the Finals in the Middle East, which begin next November.

Estonia could only delay the inevitable until the 11th minute as Benteke tapped in after Matvei Igonen spilled Carrasco’s pull back following a stunning ball from Kevin De Bruyne.

De Bruyne saw a free-kick superbly turned onto the post by Igonen before Benteke was frustrated by the woodwork and then Igonen as Belgium piled on the pressure.

The instrumental De Bruyne sent Eden Hazard through on goal with a magnificent pass with the outside of his boot, but the Real Madrid man failed to round Igonen, who made a fine smothering stop.

But Igonen could do nothing to stop a swerving long-range effort from Carrasco nestling in the top corner to give Belgium the measure of command their performance merited.

Estonia did produce an unexpected reply, Sorga pouncing on the rebound after Thibaut Courtois could only parry Rauno Sappinen’s drive.

It was fittingly De Bruyne who made sure Belgium had the final say as his perfectly weighted cross to the far post was nodded home by Thorgan Hazard, further gloss to the scoreline from Alexis Saelemaekers removed by the offside flag.

What does it mean? Belgium get another crack at major honour

Having fallen short at two European Championships and the 2018 World Cup, Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ has yet to deliver the trophy the talent in the squad is capable of producing.

After securing a place in next year’s tournament proper, Martinez can now begin formulating a plan for how to end the wait for a team that will surely be among the favourites to lift football’s biggest prize.

De Bruyne pulls the strings

A 3-1 score flattered Estonia and De Bruyne’s performance was worthy of a more emphatic result. The Manchester City star played three key passes and provided a quite brilliant assist for Belgium’s third.

Courtois unconvincing

Courtois was at fault for Estonia’s only goal and went close to letting in a second when he struggled to handle a Markus Poom effort. On a night when Belgium were collectively composed, Courtois looked anything but in the second half.

What’s next?

Belgium round off their qualifying campaign against Wales on Tuesday, when Estonia visit the Czech Republic.

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