TALLINN (REUTERS) – Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium overcame an early scare to crush Estonia 5-2 away on Thursday (Sept 2) and solidify their position at the top of World Cup qualifying Group E.
Lukaku’s extended his scoring record to 66 goals in his 99th appearance for his country after Belgium were shocked when Estonia captain Matthias Kait stole away the ball in midfield and thundered home a powerful shot to put the home side ahead in the second minute.
But Fifa’s top-ranked team fought back to move to 10 points from four group matches while Estonia are bottom after losing their opening three games.
Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel and substitute Thomas Foket also scored for Belgium while Erik Sorga grabbed a consolation for the hosts.
Estonia’s dream start lasted 20 minutes before Vanaken equalised with a close-range header from captain Eden Hazard’s perfect chip.
The 28-year-old Lukaku put Belgium ahead just before the half hour mark, using his strength to work a rebound off the home defence on to his left foot and into the corner of the net.
He also had his back to goal and was given time and space to turn and shoot as he made it 3-1 to Belgium in the 52nd minute.
The goal allowed Belgium to settle into a comfortable rhythm after Estonia had proved more than a handful in the first half and might have had more goals had they been clinical with their chances.
Witsel converted a close-in tap-in in the 65th minute after Yannick Carrasco had dribbled his way into the penalty area and Carrasco was also the provider as Foket scored his first international goal 10 minutes after coming on.
Estonia grabbed a consolation seven minutes from time as Michael Lilander teased his way in the Belgian penalty area to provide Sorga with an easy finish to bring the loudest cheer of the night.
Belgium have a much tougher assignment against the Czech Republic in Brussels on Sunday while Estonia’s next qualifier is at Wales on Wednesday. Estonia host Northern Ireland in a friendly on Sunday.