Saturday, September 19, 2020

Belgium 5-1 Iceland: Red Devils top of group after rampant display

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Sep 2020

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Belgium moved two points clear at the top of their Nations League group as they came from behind to thump Iceland 5-1.

Roberto Martinez’s men fell behind in bizarre fashion through Holmbert Fridjonsson’s deflected effort that marked the first of three goals in seven minutes.

Axel Witsel promptly levelled and Michy Batshuayi made it 2-1 to Belgium, who spurned further first-half chances to extend the lead.

But Dries Mertens put Belgium firmly in command early in the second half before Batshuayi doubled his tally and Jeremy Doku bent home a brilliant first senior international goal.

It is a win that gives them breathing room from England in Group A2 after Gareth Southgate’s men were held to a goalless draw by Denmark.

The flurry of goals started in remarkable fashion in the 10th minute when Fridjonsson’s effort from the edge of the area deflected off Jason Denayer and over the head of a helpless Koen Casteels.

Iceland’s lead lasted just three minutes when Witsel’s effort crossed the line before being cleared, the Borussia Dortmund man pouncing after Ogmundur Kristinsson tipped Mertens’ free-kick onto the crossbar.

And Witsel was heavily involved when the turnaround was completed in the 17th minute as Kristinsson could only parry his low effort as far as Batshuayi, who tucked home from point-blank range.

Belgium then could have put daylight between themselves and the visitors but Mertens fired over the bar.

Kristinsson denied Mertens shortly before half-time but five minutes into the second half, after Kevin De Bruyne’s shot narrowly deflected wide, the Napoli forward atoned for his earlier miss.

De Bruyne was typically to the fore as, following the resulting corner, he slid a neat pass into Mertens, who cut inside off his left foot to fire into the bottom-left corner.

Casteels was forced off and replaced by Simon Mignolet following a collision with Jon Fjoluson but that was a minor blemish on a triumph that became more emphatic in the 69th minute.

Witsel was twice denied before De Bruyne played in substitute Yari Verschaeren, whose cutback was flicked home by Batshuayi.

Doku applied the finishing touches, collecting a wonderful pass from De Bruyne before coming in from the left and curling a sublime finish into the top-right corner.

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