"Football is easy when it is fun," said Belgium's Eden Hazard, with his side now locked with a similarly buoyant Croatia in a two-team duel for top spot in FIFA World Cup Group A .
Belgium completed back-to-back victories over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Tuesday while Croatia won 2-1 in Wales to follow up Friday's 2-0 home success against Serbia. The countries are now level on 16 points at the group summit, nine clear of third-ranked Serbia with four games to play.
Chelsea FC attacking midfielder Hazard scored the only goal against FYROM in Brussels to add to his penalty against the same opponents on Friday. "Football is easy when it is fun, and that is now the case with this team," he said. "It is my job to score and to create goals for others. It was not easy today, but the three points are in the bag and that is what is most important. The fact Croatia won is not a disaster. We already knew it would be between them and us. We will see what happens."
Captain Vincent Kompany is similarly aware that Belgium's meeting with Croatia in Zagreb on 11 October is likely to be crucial – the sides drew 1-1 in the reverse fixture last September. "Croatia? Well, I did not expect them to lose in Wales anyway," the Manchester City FC centre-back said. "We all know we will have to do it over there [in Croatia]."
Coach Marc Wilmots added: "After six matches we have 16 points, have scored 11 goals and have conceded just once. This team is growing and becoming more mature. That is good, but we can always do better. Next we have Serbia. We will have four more finals now."
Meanwhile, Croatia did not dazzle against Wales, with coach Igor Štimac relieved to come away with the points. "I knew it would be difficult, especially after that huge match with Serbia," he said. "But I did not panic at any moment – I have no reason to. I believe we can win every game."
Skipper Darijo Srna agreed that his team-mates were "physically and emotionally spent" after the Serbia win, so was delighted to see them shake off their exhaustion to overcome the Welsh in Swansea, with Eduardo's late goal proving decisive.
"If we play every game like we played the last 20 minutes here, we will reach the World Cup, I am convinced of that," said striker Eduardo. "I want to dedicate my goal to all the Croatian fans and my best man, who called me before the match and told me I would score for sure."
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