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Belgium overcome Israel to clinch Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
The Red Devils got the victory they needed to top qualifying Group B, Dries Mertens, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard scoring in the second half.

Vertonghen very proud
Vertonghen very proud
  • Belgium win qualifying Group B after defeating Israel
  • Dries Mertens, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard score in the second half
  • Tomer Hemed pulls one back for Israel with two minutes left
  • Israel finish fourth and miss out on the play-offs

Dries Mertens, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard scored second-half goals as Belgium beat Israel 3-1 in Brussels to top UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group B.

With Belgium keen to end their qualification campaign as section winners they immediately put the visitors under pressure. Three chances were created within the first five minutes, although none resulted in a shot on target. With Hazard, De Bruyne, Mertens and Radja Nainggolan probing from all angles, the Israel midfield frequently dropped back to form an eight-man barrier in front of the penalty box.

Yet it was Eli Gutman's side who almost broke the deadlock when Eran Zahavi's free-kick evaded Simon Mignolet's grasp and cannoned off a post.

Vertonghen's Belgian pride
Vertonghen's Belgian pride

The respite was brief. De Bruyne tore down the right and delivered a beautiful low cross that Ofir Marciano deflected sufficiently to disorient Mertens, who shot wide. As the half progressed, however, the Belgian attacks became less potent and Marciano had few saves to make.

Romelu Lukaku had a glorious opportunity early in the second period after a mistake by Eytan Tibi enabled him to round Marciano, but his effort ruffled the side netting. Vincent Kompany then headed a De Bruyne corner straight into the keeper's arms.

With Wales having taken the lead against Andorra it was imperative for Belgium to score in order to retain their grip on Group B – they duly obliged. De Bruyne fed Mertens, who created space for himself in the area before beating Marciano at his near post.

De Bruyne then scored direct from a free-kick for the second game in succession and soon after Hazard made certain of the points with an assured finish. Tomer Hemed's 88th-minute header mattered little.