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 By Ian Holyman

Romelu Lukaku's goal celebration was aimed at 'irritating' Greece fans

Romelu Lukaku heads in the winning goal for Belgium in Greece, punching the Red Devils' ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The FC panel debate whether Belgium can win the World Cup or merely prove to be an entertaining side in Russia.
Romelu Lukaku and Belgium secured their place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a thrilling victory over Greece.

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku said he took the opportunity to get his own back on Greece fans in Sunday's 2018 World Cup qualifier through his goal celebration.

Lukaku struck the winning goal in a 2-1 triumph in Piraeus that earned Roberto Martinez's men their place at next summer's finals in Russia.

It all but silenced the home crowd, many of whom were still celebrating their country's equaliser that had come less than 60 seconds earlier.

The target of some roughhouse Greek defending on the pitch and vitriol from the stands, Lukaku cupped his hands behind his ears after his decisive strike 16 minutes from time.

"I did it because the crowd had also been irritating me. I got lasers shone in my eyes, but I expected that," Lukaku said after the goal that ensured his country will finish top of Group H.

"There is nothing better in football than to win a game in those conditions."

Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring for Belgium against Greece.

Lukaku, 24, who has scored three goals in as many Premier League outings for Manchester United this season, will be the spearhead of a powerful Belgium side next summer.

With the likes of Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Napoli's Dries Mertens also at Martinez's disposal, Belgium will head to Russia tipped for success.

However, Lukaku insisted international ambitions must now be put on the backburner as he gives full focus to United's domestic and European challenge.

"Let's stop talking about the World Cup until June. We're going to try to achieve the highest possible level with our clubs so that we can be ready," said the former Everton, Chelsea and Anderlecht forward, who said he had prayed and then phoned his mum after the win in Greece.

"It's better to celebrate this qualification modestly rather than in a euphoric way, as if we were world champions."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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