Belgium 3-1 Russia: Eden Hazard bags brace as Roberto Martinez’s men kick-off qualifying campaign with hard-fought victory over 10-men visitors
- Belgium took the lead early on after a fine strike from midfielder Youri Tielemans
- Denis Cheryshev brought the visitors back on level terms just two minutes later
- The hosts stuck again on the stroke of half-time through Eden Hazard’s penalty
- Hazard scored with one minute left in the game to round-off the hard-fought win
- Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin was sent off in final minute after getting two yellows
Eden Hazard scored twice as Belgium recovered from a blunder by Thibaut Courtois to beat Russia 3-1 Thursday and start its European Championship qualifying campaign on a high.
The World Cup semifinalist took the lead in the 14th minute thanks to Youri Tielemans’ low strike from the edge of the area, but Courtois allowed Russia to level two minutes later.
The Real Madrid goalkeeper was caught in possession by Russia forward Artem Dzyuba and hastily passed the ball straight to Denis Cheryshev, who rounded Courtois and scored.
Youri Tielemans smashed in from the edge of the box to give Belgium the lead on Thursday
Russia forward Denis Cheryshev celebrated after bringing the visitors back on level terms
Eden Hazard went down in the box under the challenge of Yuri Zhirkov to win a penalty
Belgium’s pace and creativity strained the Russian defence and was rewarded when Hazard burst into the penalty area and was tripped by Yuri Zhirkov’s trailing leg.
Hazard hit the resulting 45th-minute spot kick hard and low to give Russia’s Brazil-born goalkeeper Guilherme no chance.
As Russia pushed forward late on, Belgium took advantage of space at the back and Michy Batshuayi hit the post in the 79th.
The Belgium players congratulate Hazard after he converted from the spot to make it 2-1
Hazard swept the ball into the corner of the net to grab his second and seal the victory
Hazard made it 3-1 from close range in the 88th. Belgium has won six of eight games since the loss to France in the World Cup semifinals.
Russia finished with 10 men when Monaco midfielder Alexander Golovin received a second yellow card for kicking out at an opponent.