LEUVEN, Belgium (AP) — Belgium soared to an 8-0 win over Belarus to open up a three-point lead in its World Cup qualifying group on Tuesday, while Wales got its first points in a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.
Six different players scored in Belgium’s dominant victory, which padded the top-ranked nation’s goal difference to a handy +10 after three games in Group E. Hans Vanaken and Leandro Trossard finished with two goals apiece, with Michy Batshuayi, Jeremy Doku, Dennis Praet and Christian Benteke also scoring.
That illustrated the depth of talent available to coach Roberto Martinez outside of Belgium’s usual standout attacking players. Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne were unused substitutes after they combined to salvage a draw against the Czech Republic on Saturday, while Eden Hazard is injured.
It matched the biggest win of the European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup so far — Denmark beat Moldova 8-0 on Sunday — and was one goal short of Belgium’s record margin of victory. The Belgians have won by nine goals on four occasions, most recently in a 9-0 trouncing of San Marino in 2019.
The Czech Republic had a chance to keep pace with Belgium on seven points, but instead dropped back in a loss away to Wales. Both teams finished the game with 10 men after each having a player sent off.
The game was goalless until Gareth Bale crossed for Daniel James to score with a header in the 82nd minute.
“It was very chaotic, especially second half, but we were ready and kept going until the end and the most important thing is to get that winner,” Bale told broadcaster Sky Sports.
“We need to win games to qualify and we want to win every game. Football doesn’t always go the way you expect it to.”
The Czech team had striker Patrik Schick sent off in the 49th when he confronted Wales’ Connor Roberts, who was booked in that incident and then sent off for a second yellow-card offense in the 77th.
Belgium has seven points from its three games, with the Czech Republic on four. Wales and Belarus have three points apiece, but have played only twice. Last-place Estonia didn’t play Tuesday and has lost both of its games.
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