NICOSIA Romelu Lukaku scored two headers to set Belgium on their way to a 3-0 win in Cyprus on Tuesday and a first victory for new coach Roberto Martinez at the start of their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup finals.
Yannick Carrasco added the third as Belgium underlined their status as group favourites despite a change of manager following a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign in which they reached the quarter-finals.
Lukaku, who played under the Martinez at Everton, put Belgium ahead after 13 minutes with a diving header after a shot from Thomas Meunier had been touched on to the crossbar by Cyprus goalkeeper Constantinos Panayi and bounced back into the path of the striker.
The second goal came in the 61st minute as the promising keeper saved Carrasco’s effort but the ball ballooned up in the air and Lukaku easily converted with a simple header.
The third followed 20 minutes later when Panayi parried a stinging effort from Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard picking up the rebound and unselfishly squaring for an easy tap-in for Carrasco. Hazard was brought down in the last minute to allow substitute Michy Batshuayi the chance to score from a penalty but Panayi saved his spot-kick.
Belgium, jeered off by their own supporters when they lost a friendly to Spain in Brussels last Thursday, next play Bosnia at home while Cyprus travel to Greece.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond)