Roberto Martinez praises Belgium’s ‘human quality’ in San Marino thrashing as they book Euro 2020 spot


The Red Devils nearly brought up double digits on Thursday but it was their unity on the pitch that truly impressed their coach

Roberto Martinez applauded the discipline and camaraderie in his team as Belgium battered San Marino 9-0 to qualify for Euro 2020.

The world’s top-ranked side cruised to victory in Brussels on Thursday, maintaining their 100 per cent record in Group I.

A run of seven wins from seven means Belgium are the first team to guarantee their presence at next year’s finals.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice – the first was his 50th international goal – while substitutes Christian Benteke and Yari Verschaeren were also on the scoresheet.

And teenage midfielder Verschaeren being allowed to score a late penalty for his first Belgium goal particularly impressed Martinez.

“We said in advance that our attitude would be important today,” Martinez told reporters.

“We remained disciplined and it was also important that we gradually became not more selfish.

“I am very happy with the game delivered, with how we came up with opportunities and with the group feeling.

“If you see Yannick Carrasco giving the ball to an 18-year-old for the penalty, it is that human quality of this group that gives me the most pleasure.”

Martinez handed a start to Hans Vanaken, whose performances for Club Brugge, in addition to Verschaeren coming through at Anderlecht, show it is not necessary for players to leave Belgium to develop, according to the coach.

“You are never too young for this and you do not have to go abroad to fully use your potential,” Martinez added. 

“Vanaken is still growing, in Belgium, with an ambitious and well-structured team.

“His performance today was full of knowhow, timing and quality. And as far as Verschaeren is concerned, it is as if he has been walking around here for years.

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“[It is] unbelievable that he was still with the under-21 team three months ago and still with the under-18s a year ago. This is a wonderful example of the future of Belgian football.”

Belgium have now won their past six games without conceding and scored a stunning 25 goals across that span. 

Martinez’s side will look to keep that roll going on Sunday when they face Kazakhstan – a side they beat 3-0 in June. 

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