Belgium too strong for Cyprus
UEFA EURO 2020 QUALIFYING - MATCHDAY 2
|Cyprus||0 - 2||Belgium|
Cyprus were defeated 2:0 by Belgium at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia for Matchday 2 of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
After a 5:0 triumph over minnows San Marino, Cyprus failed to achieve a positive result against Group I favourites and World Cup third place finishers Belgium. Despite Ran Ben Shimon presenting a heavily defensive squad, two early goals from Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi made the difference in the game to seal the three points early on for Roberto Martinez’s team. Belgium controlled the game rather easily, but Cyprus did well to prevent a harsh scoreline and chalked up their biggest effort very late in the game with Konstantinos Laifis.
Cyprus now occupy second place in the Group I leading a four way tie on goal differential ahead of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Scotland. In the other group matches, Russia won 4:0 against Kazakhstan and Scotland surpassed their matchday one shock with a 2:0 win against San Marino.
Belgium started strong trying to break the Cypriots defensive play and get an early goal which came as early as the 10th minute. Batshuayi received the long ball and did well to control it between three Cypriot defenders and gave the assist to Hazard, who beat Urko Pardo. This was Hazard’s 30th goal in his 100th appearance for his country.
Eight minutes later, the Belgians struck again. After a long passing game, the ball reached Batshuayi inside the Cyprus penalty area and he dribbled past Pardo, who came off his line, and doubled Belgium’s lead. The visitors kept the pressure up in Pardo’s penalty area, however the naturalised Spanish-Belgian keeper denied efforts to prevent a bigger scoreline before halftime.
The pace decreased significantly in the second half as the visitors held their lead and did not put much pressure on the hosts. However, Cyprus failed to threaten on the other end. Two early shots from Timothy Castagne and Youri Tielemans did not find the target, while Pardo denied a second goal to Batshuayi after a pass from Hazard. Fotis Papoulis had an effort that went way over Thibaut Courtois’ crossbar, while a similar effort from Adnan Januzaj had the same fate on the end of the pitch. Cyprus finally came close to a goal in the 88th minute when Milija Spoljaric sent in the free kick, Laifis took the header, but the ball went just over the crossbar.
The final score remained at 2:0 for Belgium, who proved their superiority and managed to record a win in easy fashion. Cyprus have two tough away games up next with a trip to Scotland planned for June 8th and then Russia on June 11th.
Cyprus (Ran Ben Shimon): 12. Urko Pardo (GK), 2. Dossa Junior (‘46 Anthony Georgiou), 3. Nicholas Ioannou, 4. Giorgos Merkis (Captain), 7. Giorgos Efraim (‘75 Matija Spoljaric), 8. Minas Antoniou (‘81 Andreas Makris), 13. Ioannis Kousoulos, 15. Fotis Papoulis, 17. Renato Margaca, 18. Kostakis Artymatas, 19. Konstantinos Laifis.
Belgium (Roberto Martinez): 1. Thibaut Courtois (GK), 2. Toby Alderweireld, 3. Thomas Vermaelen, 5. Jan Vertonghen, 6. Leander Dendoncker, 8. Youri Tielemans, 10. Eden Hazard (Captain), 14. Dries Mertens ( ‘56 Adnan Januzaj), 16. Thorgan Hazard (‘68 Yannick Carrasco), 21. Timothy Castagne, 23. Michy Batshuayi (‘89 Dennis Praet)