Belgium defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-0 in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup on Friday in Brussels. Although no one can seriously question that the “Red Devils” were the better team of the evening and deserved to win the game, the four-goal magnitude of the triumph was quite flattering to them.
The Belgians simply showed their Bosnian opponents that efficient soccer, in which a team knows when to go forward and when to drop off, may be the most important skill in the sport.
The Bosnian “Dragons” by no means played poorly. In fact, they had phases of dominance in the game, during which the Belgians looked like they were in serious danger to concede one or more goals.
The crucial difference simply was that the home team overcame these difficult parts of the match without damage and punished their visitors, when Bosnia seemed the most in control of the game and thus, let its guard down defensively.
Furthermore, Belgium’s first two goals came as a result of Bosnian individual mistakes. After the Dragons arguably were the more active team in the first twenty to twenty-five minutes, an own-goal by Emir Spahić gave Belgium the lead.
The Red Devils doubled their advantage minutes later, when Mato Jajalo mistimed a tackle to give Eden Hazard a free path on goal to make it 2-0. That remained the score at halftime.
Bosnia and Herzegovina came out of the locker room, determined to put things right and created some good scoring opportunities. But instead of cutting their deficit in half, it was Toby Alderweireld of Belgium, who ended that good period of Bosnian play by making it 3-0 at the hour mark.
Romelu Lukaku added a fourth, with just over ten minutes left to play.
This match shows why fans can love and hate soccer at the same time: the results can be cruel, but that is what keeps people coming back for more.