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Hazard strike secures Belgium play-off spot

Cyprus 0-1 Belgium
A late goal from Eden Hazard handed the Red Devils victory and left the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B qualifying positions all but sewn up.

2015 highlights: Cyprus 0-1 Belgium
  • Eden Hazard scores decisive goal in 86th minute
  • Belgium guaranteed play-off spot
  • Cyprus unable to avenge 5-0 defeat in earlier meeting
  • Result means Wales still need a point to qualify
  • Next games: Israel v Cyprus, Andorra v Belgium (10 October)

Belgium moved to within touching distance of a spot at UEFA EURO 2016 after securing a hard-fought 1-0 win over hosts Cyprus and consolidating their hold on second place in qualifying Group B.

The victory clinched by Eden Hazard four minutes from time means Marc Wilmots's side are assured of a play-off spot thanks to their superior head-to-head record with Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will guarantee automatic qualification if they beat bottom-placed Andorra in their next match.

The visitors enjoyed the better of the first half in Nicosia, with Kevin De Bruyne going close on a number of occasions, yet despite their best efforts they could not find a way past Antonis Giorgallides in the Cyprus goal.

However, the loss of Christian Benteke, replaced at half-time by Divock Origi, seemed to dull Belgium's attacking edge and the game developed into a scrappy, battling affair, with both teams guilty of wasting possession in their haste to capitalise on the limited space available.

Belgium celebrate making the breakthrough
Belgium celebrate making the breakthrough©AFP/Getty Images

Cyprus grew in confidence as the match wore on, with Constantinos Makridis and Georgios Economides both putting in industrious performances in midfield, yet that confidence was perhaps their undoing by committing men forward they left room at the back for Belgium to exploit.

In the 86th minute, a fine searching ball found substitute Dries Mertens in space on the left and his perfectly measured cutback meant Hazard could pick his spot; he placed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to secure his side a vital three points.

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