Belgium concluded their UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 9 campaign with a comfortable win against ten-man Cyprus – although their hopes of a top-two finish remain in the balance.
Johan Walem's side kicked off level with Serbia on 13 points and one ahead of Italy but having played a game more than each. Belgium had taken only one point from their previous three qualifiers but made an early breakthrough in Larnaca when Youri Tielemans robbed Panos Theodorou and gave them a 13th-minute lead with a wonderful strike.
Belgium made the game safe with two more goals either side of the hour, Junior Malanda's header setting up Jason Denayer to make it two before Dennis Praet played in captain Paul-José Mpoku for No3. Cyprus' woes deepened in the 65th minute when Kostas Laifis was dismissed for a foul on Malanda, Michy Batshuayi scoring twice on the counterattack in the final 16 minutes and substitute Nathan Kabasele adding a volleyed sixth in added time as Belgium made their numerical advantage tell.
Italy's victory against Serbia later in the evening kept them a point behind Belgium, but both they and third-placed Serbia could overhaul Belgium on the final day of qualifying. Belgium can only watch the conclusion of Group 9 and will look to Cyprus for a favour as they travel to Italy on Tuesday.