Lukaku header gains World Cup spot for Belgium

Lukaku header gains World Cup spot for Belgium

Goal-scorer Jan Vertonghen hailed Belgium's qualification for the 2018 World Cup, while Thibaut Courtois held up Sunday's crucial 2-1 win over Greece as a blueprint for them to follow in Russian Federation.

Roberto Martinez's side has become the first European nation to secure a spot in next year's tournament, although hosts Russia, Brazil, Iran, Japan and Mexico have already secured their positions.

Greece equalised through Zeca within three minutes, but the home side's celebrations were cut short when Lukaku headed in Thomas Meunier's cross nearly immediately for what turned out to be the victor.

The other nations that have qualified for Russian Federation 2018 are Russian Federation (duh), Japan, Iran, Mexico and Brazil.

Kenan Kodro-Maksumic, Senad Lulic and Dzeko added further goals in the second half although the final score was harsh on Gibraltar. It was the first time Les Bleus have failed to beat Luxembourg since 1914.

Belgium lead Group H by eight points with two games to play.

Group A: At Amsterdam: The Netherlands 3 (Propper 7, 80, Robben 67) bt Bulgaria 1 (Kostadinov 69); At Borisov: Belarus 0 lost to Sweden 4 (Forsberg 18, Nyman 24, Berg 57, Granqvist 84-pen); At Toulouse: France 0 drew with Luxembourg 0.

At the 2014 World Cup the Belgian players banked €350,000 each, notwithstanding a relatively disappointing campaign that ended with a quarter-final defeat against Argentina.

In Group B Switzerland are still on top after making it eight wins from eight with a 3-0 victory in Latvia with Haris Seferovic and Blerim Dzemaili scoring before Ricardo Rodriguez netted a penalty.

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