Belgium bounced back from their 2-1 defeat to England as their acting captain Romelu Lukaku scored a first-half brace to hand the No.1 ranked team in the world the third win of their UEFA Nations League campaign on Wednesday. The Inter Milan star's goals helped the Red Devils secure a 2-1 away win over Iceland, who got on the scoresheet via an unlikely source in Birkir Már Sævarsson in the 17th minute.
In addition to Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Thibaut Courtois, the visitors were also without star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne for this game. However, they kept their composure throughout the game to return to winning ways after their 13-game unbeaten run came to an end against England on Sunday.
It only took Romelu Lukaku nine minutes to open the scoring as he handled a sublime long ball from defender Toby Alderweireld very well, got past two Iceland defenders using his strength and generated great power in his shot to beat Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson.
Iceland equalised in the 17th minute after a defence-splitting pass from Runar Mar Sigurjonsson found 35-year-old right-back Saevarsson with ample time and space to pull the hosts level.
Lukaku earned a penalty in the 38th minute and then converted it himself to bag his 55th goal in national colours, giving Belgium a one-goal lead that they managed to hold on until the final whistle.
Here we take a look at the player ratings for Belgium as they recapture the top spot in League A Group 2 with a well-deserved win.
Belgium Player Ratings
Simon Mignolet - 6/10
It was a nervy performance from Simon Mignolet between the sticks. He mishandled the ball on a couple of occasions, and his passing was also sloppy.
The former Liverpool man was not particularly busy and only had to make one save throughout the game. He was completely caught off guard by Birkir Mar Saevarsson's equaliser as his defenders let him have a run at the goalkeeper.
Toby Alderweireld - 7.5/10
Toby Alderweireld started on the right side of a three-man defence for Belgium and got off to a great start as he provided the assist for Lukaku's opener just nine minutes after kick-off. However, the Tottenham Hotspur man did not have much to do in the defence.
Dedryck Boyata - 6/10
Dedryck Boyata started at the heart of Belgium's three-man defence but did not have much to do as the visitors controlled the ball for the majority of the game. Moreover, Iceland rarely attacked through the middle and mostly exploited the gap behind their opponents' wing-backs, especially Carrasco, on the flanks.
Boyata displayed his passing prowess in the game as he completed 98% of his passes throughout the game.
Jason Denayer - 6/10
The former Manchester City defender was partly at fault for allowing Saevarsson to make a run behind Belgium's defensive line without being offside as he failed to react to the danger quickly. His only meaningful contribution on a night when he had a pretty routine display was that he managed four interceptions in the game.
Yannick Carrasco - 6/10
Atletico Madrid's Yannick Carrasco was allowed to operate as a wing-back on the left flank by Belgium manager Roberto Martínez. As a natural winger, he has an attacking mindset and was always looking to make a run towards the Iceland box.
However, he could not effectively track back Saevarsson as he was in an advanced position before the build-up and, thus, shares some responsibility for his team conceding a goal.
Youri Tielemans - 7/10
Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans was heavily involved in Belgium's build-up play against Iceland. He almost assumed a No.10 role behind Lukaku for most of the game as Axel Witsel took up the role of a defensive midfielder allowing him the freedom to move forward.
Almost everything went through the 23-year-old, and he had over 107 touches in the game. He picked Lukaku in the box in the 37th minute, after which the Inter Milan striker won the penalty that led to Belgium's second goal. He also contributed to the defence by making a couple of clearances and interceptions.
Axel Witsel - 6/10
The midfielder put in a decent shift for Belgium and did everything that was expected of him. His forward passes were slightly below par but he effectively recycled possession in the middle.
Thomas Meunier - 6/10
Thomas Meunier has a great attacking instinct for a right-back, and this helps him create or even score goals for club and country. However, he did not find himself in the thick of action against Iceland and had limited involvement in the Belgium attack. He only attempted one successful cross throughout the game.
Leandro Trossard - 5.5/10
There is nothing much to say about the 25-year-old's performance on Wednesday. There was little activity on the right flank for Belgium and, thus, he did not see much of the ball. He only had one shot on target and was pretty much anonymous during his 60 minutes on the pitch.
Jérémy Doku - 6.5/10
The 18-year-old winger put in a solid display in his fourth start for the Belgium national side and impressed with his quick feet and short passing. He had a good understanding with Lukaku in the final third while he also linked well with Carrasco. He has a bright future ahead and can continue to occupy the left-wing position in the absence of Eden Hazard.
Romelu Lukaku - 8.5/10
Romelu Lukaku was the star of the show as he single-handedly won the game for Belgium thanks to an electrifying first-half display. The Big Belgian got off the mark in the ninth minute as he muscled his way out to get in a shooting position after receiving a pass from Alderweireld.
The former Manchester United man found himself in the penalty box yet again in the 37th minute where he drew a foul from Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson and converted the subsequent spot-kick to give Belgium the lead. It was overall a great performance from a player in top form.
Hans Vanaken - 5.5/10
Hans Vanaken came on in the 60th minute for Trossard but hardly made any impact on the game.
Timothy Castagne - 6/10
The left-back came on in the 67th minute for Doku and took over the wing-back role from Carrasco, allowing the Atletico player to move forward and join the attack. He attempted a dangerous cross late on in the game.Published 15 Oct 2020, 08:05 IST