Crystal Palace players were among the goals in the latest round of international fixtures this week.
Christian Benteke’s hat-trick helped Belgium to a comfortable 6-0 win against Gibraltar this evening. The striker’s treble followed James McArthur’s goal for Scotland against Lithuania on Saturday.
Benteke scores three as Belgium romp to big victory
New Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez praised Benteke last week for his improved form since his arrival at Selhurst Park. The striker became the Eagles’ club-record signing in the summer when he completed a move for around £32 million from Liverpool. Benteke does not appear too bothered by the astronomical transfer fee, though, and his hat-trick ensured Belgium keep up their excellent start to the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Benteke’s first goal came after just six seconds - which is believed to be the fastest-ever goal in World Cup history - when he dispossessed the Gibraltarian defence as the ball came back from kick-off and subsequently fired past the goalkeeper.
The quick-fire strike was Benteke’s first goal for Belgium since March 2015, although the former Aston Villa forward was showing no sign of a lacklustre approach in the final third. He soon added his second – and Belgium’s third – when he netted from close-range following Thomas Meunier’s cut-back.
Benteke completed his treble in the second half, scoring Belgium’s fifth goal, when he flicked Eden Hazard’s cross into the net.
The striker was soon withdrawn injury-free and Palace will hope that his goalscoring form, which has already seen him net three times for the Eagles, will continue when he returns to Premier League action.
McArthur nets late equaliser while Ledley assists in Wales draw
Another Palace player on the scoresheet was McArthur who grabbed a late equaliser for Scotland against Lithuania on Saturday in their 1-1 draw.
The midfielder – not known for his scoring exploits despite his two this season for Palace – nodded home a perfectly executed header to snatch a point. Gordon Strachan’s side should have won the game late on having fallen behind early in the second half but put several chances to waste.
Meanwhile, fellow midfielder Joe Ledley was involved in Wales’ goal in their 1-1 draw against Georgia. The former Cardiff City and Celtic man’s corner was headed home by Gareth Bale in the ninth minute, although the Dragons failed to add to the score line after a couple of costly misses and conceded an equaliser.