BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium got their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign off to a flying start on Friday with a 6-0 victory over Andorra in a predictably one-sided match.
In their first competitive encounter since their World Cup quarter-final loss to Argentina, Belgium struck the woodwork three times in 20 minutes, opened the scoring with a Kevin de Bruyne penalty on the half-hour mark and then ripped apart Andorra’s defence.
A Nacer Chadli half-volley doubled the lead and a fine lay-off from Divock Origi for De Bruyne’s second made it 3-0 at halftime.
Origi turned one defender and beat another for number four, before Dries Mertens bagged two, a header after a superb long ball from Radja Nainggolan and a shimmy and sharp shot to make it six.
Before a sell-out crowd in Brussels, the hosts rested Eden Hazard in the hope that his bruised toe would be fully recovered in time for Monday’s tougher qualifier against Bosnia.
They did, however, field Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois just five days after he suffered a head injury in a collision with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in the Premier League, although he barely had a touch.
Belgium were to have opened their qualifying campaign with a trip to Israel, but the match scheduled in September was postponed due to the Gaza conflict.
The visitors, ranked 203rd in FIFA’s ranking of 208 nations, won one match and drew two in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, but have lost every competitive match since, although were only narrowly beaten by Wales last month.
Cyprus and Israel are the other teams in group B.