Eden Hazard slammed as 'worst player' despite scoring winner for Belgium, Christian Benteke hauled off at half-time

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots furious after 1-0 win over Cyprus

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The Independent Online

Premier League pair Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke were slammed for their performances in Belgium's 1-0 win over Cyprus.

It took a late goal from Chelsea forward Hazard for the World Cup quarter-finalists to collect three points and close the gap on Group B table toppers Wales to one point.

After the match, Belgium manager Marc Wilmots didn't hold back.

"He (Hazard) was the worst tonight," said Wilmots.

"I thought about substituting him, but in the last 10 minutes he always has the ability to do that. At the World Cup, this was the case.

"I obviously expect more from him, but he will grow as the season progresses."

He reserved much of his criticism for Liverpool striker Benteke, although he was relieved with a Group B result which sees his team with one foot in next year's finals in France.

"We won two games in a row but this is the worst team performance I have seen and we will try to rectify the issue," Wilmots told a news conference with his side having also beaten Bosnia 3-1 on Thursday.

Asked why Benteke was substituted at half-time, the Belgium coach said the striker had put in a "half-performance" and he needed to make a change as soon as possible.

Christian-Benteke-belgium.jpg
Christian Benteke lines up for Belgium

 

Wilmots felt his team had created the better chances and, despite the poor performance, their character came through.

"Both sides missed chances... But we believed until the end that we would score and managed to got the result we needed," he told reporters.

Explaining his team's sluggishness, Wilmots said both side's had struggled due to the humidity, gruelling pre-seasons and the fact they had played 72 hours earlier.

After eight matches Wales have 18 points, having been held to a 0-0 draw by Israel in Cardiff earlier on Sunday, with second-placed Belgium on 17. Israel have 13 points ahead of Bosnia with 11 and Cyprus on nine.

The nine group winners and runners-up and best third-placed side qualify for the finals while the eight remaining third-placed teams contest playoffs for the final four berths.

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