Stand-in captain Romelu Lukaku scored twice in three minutes and Johan Bakayoko netted his first international goal as Belgium ended a tumultuous few days with a 3-0 victory over Estonia in their Euro 2024 Group F qualifier on Tuesday.
The visitors had been rocked by a row between new coach Domenico Tedesco and veteran goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the build-up to the game, and made a slow start before Lukaku pounced with two close-range finishes towards the end of the first half.
Austria lead the pool with 10 points from four games, with Belgium in second place on seven points from three matches. Estonia have a single point from their three fixtures.
Belgium took the lead when Lukaku prodded in Aster Vranckx’s right-wing cross from six yards, and three minutes later made it 2-0 via a low cross from the left. Bakayoko added a late third with a fine left-footed finish.
The victory follows a chaotic build-up to the fixture after a war of words between Tedesco and Courtois that has yet to be resolved and has left the latter’s international future in doubt.
Tedesco said on Monday the keeper refused to travel to Estonia after he felt disrespected when, in the absence of injured regular skipper Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku was named captain for the 1-1 weekend home draw with Austria.
But Courtois has angrily denied this, saying he is nursing a knee injury and had been advised by doctors to skip the game.
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