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UEFA Nations League: Batshuayi double gives Belgium 2-0 win over Iceland

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UEFA Nations League: Batshuayi double gives Belgium 2-0 win over Iceland

The hosts, number one in FIFA`s world rankings, were missing several players due to injury, with striker Romelu Lukaku ruled out a day before the match to bring Batshuayi into the starting line-up.

Image Credits: Twitter/ Share: Updated: Nov 16, 2018, 14:23 PM IST Source:Reuters

Stand-in striker Michy Batshuayi scored twice as Belgium laboured to a 2-0 victory over Iceland on Thursday to propel them to the top of their UEFA Nations League pool.

The hosts, number one in FIFA`s world rankings, were missing several players due to injury, with striker Romelu Lukaku ruled out a day before the match to bring Batshuayi into the starting line-up.

Belgium had the vast majority of possession, but struggled for over an hour to break through a dogged and organised Iceland back line in a game shrouded most of the time by thick mist.

Eden Hazard, who played alongside his brother Thorgan on the left, finally unpicked the visitors` defence in the 65th minute when his perfectly-weighted cross found Thomas Meunier, who only had to stroke the ball across to Batshuayi in front of an open goal. 

Iceland, who knew they were relegated before Thursday`s match, showed more intent in the second half and might have equalised, but Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois saved Albert Gudmundsson`s shot with his legs.

Batshuayi guaranteed the victory in the 81st minute when he pounced for a tap-in after Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson, who normally plays in the Azerbaijan premier league, let slip a shot from substitute Hans Vanaken.

Belgium will travel to Switzerland for their final pool match on Sunday, knowing a draw would ensure they reach the Nations League finals in June. 

The match was also notable for a 100th international for Axel Witsel, the second most-capped Belgian behind defender Jan Vertonghen.

Though far from a sell-out, one notable spectator was Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, watching from the stands even though none of his Belgium players were fit. Marouane Fellaini was also injured.

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