Lukaku brace secures World Cup qualification for Belgium
Belgium earn victory over Croatia to send them to Brazil
Romelu Lukaku bagged a first-half brace in Belgium's Group A match against Croatia as they secured qualification for the World Cup Finals with a game to spare.
The victory gave Belgium an unassailable 8-point lead over Croatia, who are their closest rivals in the group in second place, and thus ensured they will be heading to Brazil next summer.
Gargantuan forward Lukaku, currently on loan at Everton from Chelsea, scored his first after outpacing the Croatia backline, taking the ball round helpless goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa and slotting into the gaping goal. His second started with a run from the halfway line, dinking the ball over Southampton defender Dejan Lovren before rounding the onrushing Pletikosa and tapping into an empty net once again.
Queens Park Rangers midfielder Niko Kranjcar was able to pull a goal back for Croatia with just over ten minutes remaining, but it was scant consolation for the hosts, who saw their slim chances of automatic qualification evaporate as Belgium hung on for victory.
Belgium have failed to qualify for a World Cup since 2002, but are highly fancied going into next year's tournament, largely due to their plethora of Premier League talent - Vincent Kompany, Jan Verthonghen, Eden Hazard, Christian Benteke and the aforementioned Lukaku to name but a few.
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