Belgium become 1st European team to qualify for Russia 2018 World Cup
A 74th-minute strike from Romelu Lukaku gave The Red Devils all three points in Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, Greece, meaning they will qualify top of Europe’s Group H on 22 points, despite there being two games still to play.
“Dear lord I just want to say thank you, #Qualified #WC18,” a joyous Lukaku posted on his Instagram account.
The Manchester United striker has contributed 10 goals in 8 qualifying matches so far, in which they are unbeaten - winning 7 and drawing 1.
Overall, Roberto Martinez’s side have notched up an impressive 35 goals, conceding just three in the process, and have not been bested in a World Cup qualifier since 2009.
They will join host nation Russia, along with Brazil, Iran Mexico and Japan for the tournament next year, which will be held from June 14 to July 15.
Japan booked their place in Russia for the flagship event in the football calendar with a 2-0 win over Australia on Thursday.
Brazil became the first team to qualify, followed by Iran, while Russia gain an automatic spot as hosts.
Elsewhere in last weekend’s international games, France were held to an historic 0-0 draw at home to minnows Luxembourg. It was the first time Les Bleus have failed to beat Luxembourg since 1914.
Russia recorded a 3-0 victory over Russian Premier League side Dynamo Moscow at Khimki Arena.
Syria have the chance to qualify for a World Cup for the first time in their history on Tuesday. Should the war-torn nation beat Iran in their final group match, they will finish no lower than 3rd place in the group, thereby entering a play-off for a World Cup place.
The “Qasioun Eagles” could finish 2nd and qualify directly depending on the result of the match between South Korea and Uzbekistan.