PARIS, France, June 8 — Belgium tore through Poland to win their Nations League match 6-1 in Brussels on Wednesday.
Belgium lost their opener to neighbors Dutch but responded with an increasingly dominant performance and finished the game with five goals in just over 30 minutes.
“It brings extra emotion when you lose against your rivals, so that was definitely a motivation tonight,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.
“Against the Netherlands we were passive, waiting, insecure. Now we were a team rather than individuals.
Belgium suffered another early setback on Wednesday as the visitors took the lead after 28 minutes as star striker Robert Lewandowski netted his 22nd goal for club and country in 2022.
The Bayern Munich striker controlled a pass from Piotr Zielinski in the air, then flicked it past Simon Mignolet who was rushing with the outside of his left boot.
The hosts equalized three minutes before half-time.
Kevin de Bruyne broke through the Polish defence. After his drive was parried, Timothy Castagne returned the ball to Axel Witsel who deflected a drive inside the post.
Belgium took the lead after 59 minutes of counterattack. Captain Eden Hazard found De Bruyne free in the box and he slipped a shot past Bartlomiej Dragowski.
Hazard, who has struggled with injury at Real Madrid this season and was an unused substitute in the Champions League final, was released after 66 minutes.
“I am extremely happy to have been able to be important for the team, especially after my season,” he said.
Leandro Trossard replaced Hazard and scored twice in seven minutes.
Defender Leander Dendoncker then scored his first long-range international goal.
Lois Openda, who came off the bench to make his international debut with six minutes left, completed the rout in injury time.
“It was a game that will give us a lot to think about, a lot of question marks in various parts of our game plan and our overall strategy, but also a lesson in how to play against such teams,” said Liewandowski.
Belgium, who lost their Group 4 opener to the Netherlands, are second behind their neighbors and ahead of Poland on goal difference.
“No one should worry about the future of Belgian football. We have immense talent but we have to be patient,” Martinez said. “We finally have the structure in place. The rest will follow, but the talent is definitely there. .
At the World Cup in Qatar in November, Belgium were drawn in a group with Canada, Morocco and 2018 losing finalists Croatia. Poland will face Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Argentina.
“I told the players that they should use it as a reminder of how opponents play at the highest levels in the world,” Polish coach Czeslaw Michniewicz said.