Roberto Martinez was pleased with the maturity shown by his Belgium side after they recovered from an early setback in their World Cup qualifying win over Estonia.
The Red Devils fell behind for the third time in four Group E matches when Mattias Kait turned over possession and rifled a shot past Thibaut Courtois inside the first two minutes of Thursday’s contest.
But Hans Vanaken had Belgium on level terms 20 minutes later and Romelu Lukaku scored either side of half-time to give the visitors some breathing space in Tallinn.
Substitute Thomas Foket bagged his first international goal after Axel Witsel had further extended Belgium’s lead, rendering Erik Sorga’s late strike nothing more than a consolation.
Despite conceding a couple of sloppy goals in the 5-2 victory, Martinez was ultimately happy with the result in his side’s first game since their Euro 2020 quarter-final loss to Italy two months ago.
“Estonia deserve all the credit for their first goal – they recaptured the ball high up on the pitch and the shot was great. That just happens in football,” Martinez said.
“The second goal is due to the substitutions we made. I was pleased that after the first goal we remained calm and knew what to do.
“I’m happy to have scored five goals. The team has shown maturity today. These gatherings in September are not the easiest, and it’s not always the favourites who win.”
Courtois was well beaten by Kait’s early shot and was let down by some sloppy defending for Sorga’s strike as Belgium shipped two goals for the second game running.
The Real Madrid goalkeeper was eager to focus on the positives from the win, however, which leaves Belgium top of Group E with 10 points from four matches.
“We played a good game today,” Courtois said. “Those two goals against us are of course less good, but in possession we were good.
“The goals we conceded is something that happens. There’s nothing you can do about it. We have to analyse it internally, but the most important thing today was the win.
“We could have scored eight or nine goals in the end, but we know that it has to be better against the Czech Republic on Sunday.”
Thursday’s match was a special occasion for Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga, who made his senior debut for Belgium as a second-half substitute.
“I’m happy with my first cap,” he said. “The coach asked me to play for the team, he didn’t want the team to relax.
“It’s a good period for me and my family but you have to keep your feet on the ground. It’s clearly a good time for me and I hope it will continue.”