Iceland 1-2 Belgium: Lukaku sends visitors top

Two Romelu Lukaku goals put Belgium top of Group A2 and relegated Iceland.

Highlights: Iceland 1-2 Belgium
Highlights: Iceland 1-2 Belgium

Belgium moved two points clear in League A Group 2 after Romelu Lukaku struck twice away to Iceland, a result that condemned the home side to relegation.

Iceland vs Belgium: as it happened, reaction

Match in brief

Lukaku scores the second from the penalty spot
Lukaku scores the second from the penalty spotBELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Short of players, and with coach Erik Hamrén and his staff isolating, Iceland looked shaky early on, Lukaku capitalising on some tentative defending as he turned in the box to crash the opener past Rúnar Rúnarsson. However, the hosts did not buckle, levelling when Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson's sweet ball teed up Birkir Sævarsson to fire low past Simon Mignolet.

They threatened to do more damage to Belgium, who were without key men Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, but the tide turned again when Lukaku was fouled in the box and stepped up to coolly convert from the penalty spot: his 55th goal for Belgium. Iceland looked the better side for much of the second half, but a moral victory did not spare them relegation to League B.

Andri Valsson, Iceland reporter

Even with half their key players missing, this was probably Iceland's best performance of this Nations League campaign. Unfortunately, that counts for nothing. After a tough opening, the team looked comfortable on the ball, with focus, spirit and dedication shining through. You cannot really ask for more.

Romelu Lukaku now has 55 goals for Belgium
Romelu Lukaku now has 55 goals for BelgiumAFP via Getty Images

Dante Bellon, Belgium reporter

This wasn't the easy game that Belgium had hoped for. After the defeat in England, it was important to gain some confidence again, but this was an inconclusive performance. The creativity of De Bruyne and Hazard was certainly missed.

Reaction

Romelu Lukaku, Belgium forward: "We are top of the group again. Now it's important to make the difference in the final two games. I have to congratulate [stand-in Iceland coach Arnar] Vidarsson. He set his men up very well today. OK, he knows us very well, but he made it a difficult match for us."

Roberto Martínez, Belgium coach: "I am a happy coach tonight. We showed leadership, we were efficient and played a good game. But I also know that this game will not win any beauty contests. These kinds of games are never easy. We have also travelled a lot in the last few days. But I am happy that we are top of the group again."

Reaction: Lukaku on 'difficult' Belgium victory
Reaction: Lukaku on 'difficult' Belgium victory

Axel Witsel, Belgium midfielder: "I am very happy with the win tonight. We were up against a difficult opponent and a difficult pitch. This match will not be one for the history books, though. We played in a good block and responded well after our game in England. We didn't score the amount of goals our fans are used to, but the three points are the most important thing."

Arnar Vidarsson, stand-in Iceland coach: "I haven’t slept much, and it has been an interesting 24 hours, but fun. The gameplan was well set up and us stand-ins were comfortable with following it. We are proud and the boys can be proud of themselves. Overall, the performance was decent, but we wanted to get the equaliser in the end."

Birkir Sævarsson, Iceland defender: "I felt we did well, especially in the second half. It was great to be back in the team. Of these past three games, we won the one that really mattered to secure a EURO play-off final. This was good preparation for that here tonight. If the coaches want me for the games in November, I’ll be ready.”

Hólmar Eyjólfsson, Iceland defender: "We did especially well in the second half, after going over some things during the break, but it's never nice to lose. {Romelu Lukaku] is very strong, and we had to rethink how to deal with him during the break. Having one marker on him was not enough, but we handled him better in the second half.”

Key stats

  • Belgium's captain Lukaku moves his national-record goals tally to 55.
  • Iceland have lost their last eight UEFA Nations League matches – they failed to score in five of those defeats.
  • The Red Devils have now won all 13 of their matches against Iceland.
  • Belgium have scored at least one first-half goal in their last 15 competitive matches, and have scored the first goal in five successive Nations League away fixtures.
  • Belgium have kept only two clean sheets in their last seven UEFA Nations League matches.
Watch Iceland arrivals
Watch Iceland arrivals

Line-ups

Iceland: Rúnarsson; Sævarsson, Eyjólfsson, Ingason, Magnússon (Traustason 86); Bjarnason, Pálsson (Hermansson 82), Sigurjónsson (Thorsteinsson 69), Skúlason; Bödvarsson (Kjartansson 69), Gudmundsson (Sigthórsson 82)

Belgium: Mignolet; Alderweireld, Denayer, Boyata; Meunier, Witsel, Tielemans, Carrasco; Trossard (Vanaken 61), Lukaku, Doku (Castagne 68)

What's next?

Belgium welcome England on Sunday 15 November while Denmark play host to Iceland.