San Marino 0-4 Belgium: Michy Batshuayi at the double in routine win

Belgium beat a battling San Marino side 4-0 to strengthen its position at the top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group I.

Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi   -  Getty Images

Michy Batshuayi scored twice as Belgium claimed a low-key 4-0 victory over San Marino to strengthen its position at the top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group I.

Chelsea striker Batshuayi opened the scoring from the penalty spot just before half-time in what proved the only goal of the opening period at San Marino Stadium.

Dries Mertens added a second shortly following his introduction after the break before fellow substitute Nacer Chadli notched Belgium's third.

Batshuayi then added a fourth late on with a header to complete the routine three points.

Belgium has won all five of its Euro 2020 qualifying matches but was well below its best in Serravalle.

 

The final score of a match between the team at the top of the FIFA rankings and the team at the very bottom was entirely predictable.

However, the manner of it came as more of a surprise as San Marino, ranked last in 211th place, produced a defiant defensive display to stifle the attacking talent of its more illustrious opponents.

The last time the sides met in Belgium, the Red Devils strolled to an emphatic 8-0 so for San Marino to restrict it to just four shots on target in the first half was to its credit.

That it took until the 43rd minute for Belgium to open the scoring, from the penalty spot, against a team of San Marino’s standing will be of a slight concern to Roberto Martinez ahead of tougher assignments.

San Marino defender Mirko Palazzi was unfortunate when the ball bounced up and struck him on the arm and Batshuayi slotted home the resulting spot-kick.

Perhaps the biggest compliment paid to San Marino in the match was when Mertens added a second with a close-range finish after being teed up by Chadli, he immediately grabbed the ball out of the net and took it back to the centre circle to kick-off again.

Mertens then returned the favour when he crossed for Chadli to steer the ball home before Batshuayi headed home Yannick Carrasco's cross late on.

What it means

Belgium's win ensures it remains top of Group I with five consecutive victories while San Marino is rock bottom without a point and no goals scored.

San Marino has not claimed a point in qualification match of any type since a goalless draw against Estonia in November 2014 but this performance will give encouragement, it can possibly repeat the feat during this campaign.

Belgium boss Martinez has loftier ambitions and will demand an improvement in forthcoming matches.


Mertens makes the difference

Following an insipid first-half display Martinez introduced Mertens 10 minutes into the second half and he had the required impact.

The Napoli forward scored Belgium’s first goal from open play when he tapped in from close range and then teed up Chadli for its second.

His busy and energetic performance was one of the few plus points for Belgium in a largely unremarkable and forgettable victory.


Origi fails to stake his claim

Divock Origi normally finds himself down the pecking order given Belgium's wealth of striking talent.

He was handed a chance to impress against the lowest ranked international team in world football but fluffed his opportunity with a subdued display.

The Liverpool forward, who was substituted 10 minutes into the second half, is unlikely to force Belgium boss Martinez into a radical rethink anytime soon. 


What's next?

Belgium is back in qualifying action again on Monday when it faces Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow. San Marino has another home fixture when it hosts Cyprus in Serravalle on the same day.

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