NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — After a disappointing exit from the European Championship, Belgium began its bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup under new coach Roberto Martinez with a 3-0 victory over Cyprus on Tuesday.
Striker Romelu Lukaku scored a goal in each half as the talent-packed team looked determined to shake off its underachiever tag.
Belgium had gone into Euro 2016 in France as a title favorite, but lost 3-1 to Wales in the quarterfinals. The Red Devils were the favorites on Tuesday, and this time Lukaku delivered.
He headed home the opener in the 13th minute after Cyprus goalkeeper Konstantinos Panagi had parried a low shot from Thomas Meunier. In the 61st, Lukaku netted his second of the night, his 19th international goal.
Yannick Carrasco rounded off the scoring nine minutes from time, before substitute Michy Batshuayi had a last-minute penalty kick saved by Panagi.
Elsewhere, there were convincing victories too for Belgium’s Group H rivals Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina.