Martinez lauds 'winning team' after Belgium book World Cup spot

Belgium Roberto Martinez World Cup qualifier sports news football Indian Express

On Sunday Belgium secured their place at the finals in Russian Federation after a laboured 1-2 victory away in Greece.

In a match that could have gone either way, Martinez's side struggled to penetrate the hosts in Piraeus until Vertonghen slammed home a long-range effort in the 70th minute to spark off a flurry of action.

Parity was restored nearly immediately when Zeca steered in a volley with Courtois helpless, and there was just about time for Hazard to be introduced before Belgium retook the lead 60 seconds later, Romelu Lukaku heading in.

Vertonghen acknowledged that a tense affair could have gone either way, but was determined to toast Belgium's success. Jan Vertonghen and Romelu Lukaku scored to end Greek resistance. "It's better to celebrate this qualification modestly rather than euphorically, as if we were world champions".

The 44-year-old is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: "We must be proud about being the first from Europe to qualify and now look to work harder to become better". In the second half we got more space and we scored a goal, but it could have gone the other side of the post.

"We'll fly back right now, but we're going to have a drink!"

"If we had gone behind, it's a completely different story", Courtois added, having also criticised the quality of the pitch.

In Group B, Portugal kept alive their chances of qualifying directly for the World Cup when Andre Silva's goal gave them a 1-0 win away to Hungary who played for an hour with 10 men in a bruising encounter on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands boosted their hopes of making it to the finals with a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in Amsterdam.

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