Romelu Lukaku rescued a point for Belgium as Roberto Martinez’s side had to settle for a draw against Greece
The Everton striker’s fine turn and finish in the 89th minute cancelled out Kostas Mitroglou’s opener and spared Belgium the disappointment of ending their unbeaten run in Group H.
Belgium – who were without the injured Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne – never really looked cohesive and were quite profligate in front of goal.
Despite this, they managed to rescue a point and maintain their lead at the top of Group H, where they currently sit 2 points ahead of second placed Greece. We take a look at the key talking points from the match.
Lukaku the main man
Romelu Lukaku continued his fine club form with the Belgian team and it was his effort – a great goal which the striker chested down and volleyed in under pressure – that saved Belgium a point.
Lukaku always looked like their most threatening player and constantly got into good positions but the disjointed nature of Belgium’s attacking play left him starved of service.
Belgium have a hugely talented squad with several talented players but Lukaku is slowly beginning to look like he will be the one who will lead them to success over the next decade.
Romelu Lukaku has scored 28 goals in his last 31 games for club & country.
Belgium’s hero. pic.twitter.com/XaL5nsXX5a
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 25, 2017
Hazard and De Bruyne missed
Alongside Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are arguably Belgium’s most important players and their absence last night was telling.
Belgium struggled to create chances and could have used the wizard-like dribbling ability of Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne’s vision and passing ability.
Roberto Martinez will be hoping that he does not have to do without the duo too many times in the future, as the Belgians look like a much weaker side without them.
So basically without Hazard and de bruyne #Belgium is dead
— Tiwalola Olowofela (@M_A_LeStrange) March 25, 2017
Roberto Martinez remains unconvincing
It came as a surprise when Martinez was appointed as Belgium manager, a team many see as the most promising national side in the world.
Several questions that were asked of Martinez at Everton have yet to be answered with Belgium. Their attacking play looks very stale and disjointed at times.
Despite having Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in defense, the Belgians still look porous at times and Martinez was accused of failing to properly organise a defense during his time with Everton as well.
The jury is still out on the Spanish tactician but current evidence points to the fact that Martinez is holding back this Belgium team as opposed to improving it.
Roberto Martinez drawing at home to 9 man Greece with that Belgium squad just sums him up. Biggest fraud since Frank Abagnale Jr
— Sibs (@SibsMUFC) March 25, 2017
Greece back to what they do best
Greece’s Euro 2004 victory was one of the most surprising results in recent times when it comes to international football and it was definitely a great achievement for their side.
However, their negative approach throughout that tournament – choosing to defend with 11 men and stifle teams as opposed to attack them – was criticised in several quarters and last night Greece adopted similar tactics.
In the end, results are king and Greece cannot be blamed for attempting to stifle a side with better players than they have but that did not stop Roberto Martinez from branding their style of football as “ugly.”
Two red cards but Greece will be the happier team
Panagiotis Tachtsidis’ dismissal in the 65th minute for a second yellow card could have been the spark Belgium needed but the hosts failed to take advantage immediately.
Belgium attempted to attack with wave after wave but were unable to use the advantage and had to wait until the 89th minute for the equaliser.
Giorgos Tzavellas was also sent off for a second yellow after a scuffle broke out deep into injury time but Greece will definitely be the happier side when it comes to the result, as the celebrations from their players at the final whistle showed.