Football: Gibraltar rocked by Benteke's record

Belgium's Christian Benteke celebrates his goal against Gibraltar.
Belgium's Christian Benteke celebrates his goal against Gibraltar.PHOTO: REUTERS

FARO (Portugal) • Christian Benteke struck after a record-breaking 8.1 seconds and went on to grab a hat-trick as Belgium thrashed Gibraltar 6-0 to stay on top of World Cup qualifying Group H on goal difference.

It was the fastest goal in a World Cup qualifier.

Benteke's quick-fire strike eclipsed the previous best of 8.3 seconds achieved by San Marino's Davide Gualtieri in a World Cup qualifier against England in November 1993.

The record for the fastest goal in a World Cup Finals match is 10.8 seconds by Turkey's Hakan Sukur against South Korea in 2002.

Benteke stole the ball in the opponent's half straight from the kick-off and weaved his way through Gibraltar's defence to score from inside the area.

The Crystal Palace striker celebrated the strike, also the fastest goal scored by a Belgium international, by holding up six fingers, thinking he had scored after six seconds.

Axel Witsel made it 2-0 after 19 minutes and Benteke netted his second shortly before half-time. After Dries Martens scored the fourth in the 51st minute, Benteke completed his first hat-trick for Belgium five minutes later.

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard then completed the rout in the 78th minute.

Belgium top Group H on nine points thanks to their superior goal difference over Greece, who also extended their 100 per cent start by winning 2-0 in Estonia.

"The fact we scored so early proves we were fully concentrated," manager Roberto Martinez told Belgian network RTBF.

"We weren't selfish, we played for each other. Our aim was to score early to make our job easier and that's what we did. I'm very pleased with the display we put on."

Martinez also said that Benteke's return to form for club and country was his reward for working hard to try and bounce back from an underwhelming season with Liverpool last year.

Benteke has scored three goals in five Premier League appearances for Crystal Palace.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Gibraltar rocked by Benteke's record'. Print Edition | Subscribe