Belgium 3-1 Russia: Eden Hazard scores twice in European Qualifier
Hosts overcome Thibaut Courtois howler to start European Qualifiers with win
Last Updated: 21/03/19 11:08pm
Eden Hazard scored twice as Belgium recovered from a blunder by Thibaut Courtois to beat Russia 3-1 Thursday and start their European Championship qualifying campaign on a high.
The World Cup semi-finalists took the lead in the 14th minute thanks to Youri Tielemans' low strike from the edge of the area, but Courtois allowed Russia to level two minutes later.
The Real Madrid goalkeeper was caught in possession by Russia forward Artem Dzyuba and hastily passed the ball straight to Denis Cheryshev, who rounded Courtois to score.
Belgium's pace and creativity strained the Russian defence and the hosts were rewarded when Hazard burst into the penalty area and was tripped by Yuri Zhirkov's trailing leg.
The Chelsea forward hit the resulting spot-kick hard and low to give Russia goalkeeper Guilherme Marinato no chance right on the stroke of half-time.
As Russia pushed forward late on, Belgium took advantage of space at the back and Michy Batshuayi hit the post in the 79th minute.
Hazard made it 3-1 from close range in the 88th minute after Batshuayi inadvertently set up his team-mate with a heavy first touch. The result means Belgium have won six of eight games since the loss to France in the World Cup semi-finals.
Russia finished with 10 men when Monaco midfielder Alexander Golovin received a second yellow card for kicking out at Tielemans, meaning he will now be suspended for the game against Kazakhstan.