Belgium ease past Cyprus, maiden victory for Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez earned his first victory as Belgium manager in the World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus.

By: Reuters | Nicosia | Published:September 7, 2016 4:32 pm
Belgium, roberto martinez, martinez, roberto martinez belgium, belgium manager, belgium vs cyprus, belgium cyprus, belgium world cup qualifiers, belgium world cup, eden hazard, kevin de bruyne, romelu lukaku, lukaku, belgium football, football news, sports news Belgium manager Roberto Martinez during the game against Cyprus.REUTERS

Satisfaction, rather than relief, was the overriding emotion for Roberto Martinez after Belgium kicked off their World Cup qualifiers with a 3-0 away win over Cyprus on Tuesday.

It was a maiden success for Martinez after his first game in charge of Belgium last Thursday had seen the team jeered off by home fans following a loss to Spain in a friendly international in Brussels.

“Relief is not the right word. More satisfaction,” Martinez told reporters after two goals from Romelu Lukaku and one from Yannick Carrasco ensured a winning start to the Group H campaign.

“We had a negative feeling that we had missed out on a chance to make a fresh start. We wanted to dial back and reset and that we achieved. It could have been a lot better, that I know. But it is a lot easier to work now with three points in the back pocket.”

Martinez, who replaced Marc Wilmots after Belgium’s disappointing quarter-final exit at the European Championship in France, said he had sought to take the Belgian players “out of their comfort zone” by playing a new system.

“I knew it could work. I think we have become more of a team because of it.” The key point was Martinez’s new approach for the highly rated midfield duo of Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard to play more central roles to “allow them more space to run at the opposing defence and to be able to influence the game,” he added.

Belgium play three more qualifiers before the end of the year, hosting Bosnia in Brussels on Oct. 7, meeting Gibraltar away on Oct. 10 and the home again to Estonia on Nov. 13.