Belgium book spot in Brazil

Belgium ensured they will deservedly take their place at next year's World Cup in Brazil as a Romelu Lukaku brace sealed an impressive 2-1 victory over Croatia in Zagreb.

Last Updated: 11/10/13 at 19:53 Post Comment

Romelu Lukaku celebrates his opening goal as Belgium beat Croatia

Romelu Lukaku celebrates his opening goal as Belgium beat Croatia

Free £50 bet

Daily Offers and Promotions, sign up for a free £50 matched bet

The visitors needed only to avoid defeat to be sure of qualifying as winners of Group A but got across the line with plenty in reserve as Croatia - who replied late on through Niko Kranjcar - had to be content with a place in the play-offs.

Marc Wilmots' star-studded Belgians have cruised through their qualification campaign, with Friday's 2-1 win their eighth of the group stage - their only dropped points so far coming with a draw at home to Croatia in September last year.

Even without the injured Vincent Kompany and Christian Benteke Wilmots was able to field a line-up with quality in every area, with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini and Eden Hazard all on show.

But it was Everton striker Lukaku who took centre stage in the first half, bagging two more goals in what has been a fine start to the season to further call into question the decision of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho to ship him out on loan.

Sixteen minutes had gone when the giant frontman opened the scoring, Steven Defour providing a defence-splitting pass that he ran onto before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home.

Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa did better on 28 minutes when he clawed away a Fellaini header, but he had no answer 10 minutes later when Lukaku made it two.

This time the striker got in behind the home defence and benefited from a lucky ricochet as Pletikosa dived at his feet, the ball bouncing into his path and allowing him to run the ball into the unguarded net.

Croatia rallied just before the break and Belgium had Thibaut Courtois to thank for preserving their clean sheet when he reacted to keep out Mario Mandzukic's header.

The second half lacked the excitement of the first, with Croatia perhaps resigned to their fate.

However, the visiting fans did have reason to get to their feet in the 69th minute as they acclaimed match-winner Lukaku, who was withdrawn to be replaced by Nacer Chadli.

Belgium almost made it three 13 minutes from the end when substitute Kevin Mirallas played in Fellaini but the Manchester United man saw his low shot kept out by the feet of Pletikosa.

Instead the final goal went the way of the hosts as Kranjcar drilled home a sweet half-volley with six minutes left, but Belgium were not to be denied the pleasure of sealing their first World Cup appearance since 2002 with a fine victory.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

There are no results at present.

Footer 365

Premier League: Manchester United's Juan Mata backs Louis van Gaal's winning mentality

Juan Mata has hailed Louis van Gaal and believes that the Dutchman will bring a winning mentality to Manchester United.

Transfer news: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger prepared to take gamble on Calum Chambers

Arsene Wenger admits signing Calum Chambers from Southampton is somewhat of a gamble, but one he believes will pay off.

Friendly: Raheem Sterling earns Liverpool 1-0 pre-season win over Olympiakos in Chicago

Raheem Sterling scored a lone early goal as Liverpool beat Olympiakos 1-0 in Chicago in the International Champions Cup.

Mail Box

Reasons To Believe That Van Gaal Will Be The Best

Some supporters sound oh so confident on Louis Van Gaal's excellence. Plus thoughts on shirt sales, best signings, football sevens and a good deal more besides...

Are Pre-Season Tours Really A Problem?

Are pre-season tours really a problem? Liverpool went to Australia last summer and it didn't prevent them from having a good season. Plus, thoughts on LvG and keepers...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property