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Sports

Belgium earn trip to Brazil to mark evening of World Cup qualifying

In qualifying matches for next year's World Cup, Belgium's win means they return to the finals for the first time in more than ten years. Germany, England, Italy and Sweden were among the other teams in action.

A 2-1 win away to Croatia ensured unbeaten Belgium topped Group A and became the third European team to secure a place in Brazil after Netherlands and Italy.

On-loan Everton striker Romelu Lukaku scored two first-half goals as Belgium beat Croatia 2-1 in Zagreb to reach the global showpiece for the first time since 2002.

Manchester United star Marouane Fellaini said after the game: "We knew it would be a difficult match tonight but we have done what we had to do."

"In this new generation of players, there is technique, maturity, physicality and they are also warriors," added Fellaini.

In other matches, Germany beat the Republic of Ireland 3-0, England beat Montenegro 4-1, Wales beat Macedonia 1-0, Azerbaijan beat Northern Ireland 2-0, Armenia beat Bulgaria 2-1, Malta lost 1-4 at home to the Czech Republic and Denmark and Italy drew 2-2.

The Faroe Islands drew 1-1 with Kazakhstan, Sweden beat Austria 2-1, Andorra lost 0-4 at home to Romania and Estonia lost 0-2 to Turkey. Portugal drew at home with Israel 1-1.

jm/dr (Reuters, AP)