Martinez wants more from misfiring Belgium after draw

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku rues missing a chance against Greece. The Everton striker made amends a minute from time when he scored Belgium's equaliser against Greece.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku rues missing a chance against Greece. The Everton striker made amends a minute from time when he scored Belgium's equaliser against Greece.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS • Belgium coach Roberto Martinez demanded his players live up to their collective talent, after a frustrating 1-1 draw with nine-man Greece in their World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Although they were without the injured Chelsea star Eden Hazard and Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, Belgium still boasted the likes of Everton's Romelu Lukaku and Napoli's Dries Mertens in their ranks.

However, the expected goal glut in their Group H clash never materialised.

In fact, Belgium needed a goal from Lukaku a minute from the end to salvage a point which kept them two points ahead of Greece, although they lost their perfect qualifying start which had seen 21 goals scored and just one conceded in their first four games.

"I feel a lot of frustration. With the amount of individual talent we have, we have to show more," said Martinez. "We didn't have enough penetration. The surface wasn't great but that's not an excuse. The positive thing is that we are still on top of the table."

Belgium lacked a creative spark in Brussels and they were made to pay when Greece grabbed the lead just 20 seconds into the second period when Benfica striker Kostas Mitroglou latched on to a long ball to fire home his third goal of the qualifying campaign.

Greece were reduced to 10 men after 65 minutes when Panagiotis Tachtsidis was red carded for a crude lunge on defender Toby Alderweireld.

Lukaku drove home from close range in the 89th minute before Georgios Tzavelas was sent off in stoppage time.

Martinez was not impressed by Greece's performance either, accusing the 2004 European champions of playing "an ugly, physical game".

Greece manager Michael Skibbe declined to comment about the marching orders but was pleased to that his side maintained their unbeaten record in qualifying.

"I am very satisfied. The point is good and the boys carried out the plan to bring us the prize," he said.

"The group remains open."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2017, with the headline 'Martinez wants more from misfiring Belgium after draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe