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Lukaku Congratulates Emergency Iceland Coach After Hard-Fought Belgium Win

Iceland could not avoid Nations League relegation against Belgium but still performed admirably in the absence of their head coach.

Romelu Lukaku paid tribute to stand-in Iceland coach Arnar Vidarsson despite a defeat to Belgium that saw them relegated from Nations League Group A2.

Lukaku scored both Belgium goals in a 2-1 away success on Wednesday, his penalty proving decisive after Birkir Mar Saevarsson had levelled for Iceland.

Hosts Iceland perhaps deserved a point after pushing for a second equaliser after half-time, subjecting the world’s top-ranked side to a tense finish midweek.

Despite their demotion, Iceland’s performance was made all the more remarkable by the absence of their usual coaching staff amid coronavirus measures.

With head coach Erik Hamren and his assistants in quarantine, Under-21s boss Vidarsson flew in to lead the side.

Vidarsson spent the majority of his playing career in Belgium with Lokeren and Cercle Brugge, however, also taking coaching roles with both clubs and therefore having an insight into the away team.

“He set his men up very well today. Okay, he knows us very well, but he made it a difficult match for us tonight.”

Vidarsson said: “I haven’t slept much and it has been an interesting 24 hours but fun.

“The game plan was well set up and us stand-ins were comfortable with following it. We are proud and the boys can be proud of themselves.

“Overall, the performance was decent, but we wanted to get the equaliser in the end.”

While Iceland will finish bottom of the group, Belgium regained top spot courtesy of defeat for England winners against Roberto Martinez’s men last week – at home to Denmark.

“We are top of the group again – now it’s important to make the difference in the final two games,” Lukaku added.

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