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Belgium 6-1 Cyprus: De Bruyne leads latest Red Devils rout

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Belgium completed a dominant Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a 10th win in 10, crushing Cyprus 6-1 in Brussels on Tuesday.

Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils signed off from Group I in real style as Kevin De Bruyne and Christian Benteke both scored twice, albeit only after Cyprus had improbably led through Nikolas Ioannou.

The Belgian response was swift, Benteke and Yannick Carrasco scoring as De Bruyne bagged a brace before the break.

An own goal and Benteke’s second following the restart saw the World Cup semi-finalists end qualifying on a remarkable total of 40 goals, more than any other side in Europe.

Hans Vanaken should have opened the scoring for Belgium after 10 minutes but incredibly missed the target from six yards following Thorgan Hazard’s teasing low cross.

The hosts were swiftly punished, too, as Ioannou’s left boot proved far more clinical, with a low finish sent beyond Simon Mignolet.

Belgium were behind for less than two minutes, though. Benteke failed to make contact with De Bruyne’s right-wing cross but scrambled to prod in when Carrasco returned the ball from the left.

A string of Neophytos Michael saves initially kept Belgium at bay as they chased another, yet the goalkeeper gifted De Bruyne a goal 10 minutes before half-time, comically fumbling a bobbling volley into the net.

De Bruyne had his second before the break, firing in with the aid of a slight deflection, before Carrasco volleyed through Michael’s legs from Hazard’s centre.

It was more of the same after half-time as Michael spilled De Bruyne’s shot and directed Carrasco’s rebound onto the post, only to see Kypros Christoforou prod in a tame own goal moments later.

Yari Verschaeren poked a one-on-one wastefully wide, but Benteke – completely out of sorts in the Premier League – was clinical when similarly sent through, dispatching the chance with his left foot.

Benteke looked destined for a hat-trick until he dallied with an open goal, allowing Christoforou to recover, with the Red Devils settling for six.

What does it mean? Belgium an attacking force to fear

Belgium have seen front men Romelu Lukaku, Benteke and Michy Batshuayi each have issues with form at club level during this campaign, while chief creator De Bruyne has dealt with an injury. To still end with such a tally in the goals-for column is staggering.

The opponents have been modest and greater tests are to come, but the Red Devils will expect to outscore anyone.

De Bruyne a class above

Eden Hazard was similarly involved in much of Belgium’s best work, but this was a De Bruyne masterclass. He cut through the Cyprus defence time and again, playing every type of pass to tee up team-mates. The Manchester City man still found time for a pair of goals and looks in fine nick heading into a busy club period.

Unhelpful contributions

De Bruyne and Eden Hazard were capable of beating Cyprus without any help but gleefully accepted the unorthodox assistance that came their way. Michael made an awful mess of De Bruyne’s shot when the visitors looked like reaching half-time still level, sparking a collapse.

What’s next?

Martinez will settle in to assess club action over the coming months, hoping De Bruyne and his other key players come through unscathed ahead of Euro 2020. Cyprus will merely be spectators when the tournament kicks off, perhaps grateful to avoid another meeting.

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