Christian Benteke may not have been firing on all cylinders in a Crystal Palace shirt of late but the big man is having no trouble finding the net for his country, bagging a quickfire brace this afternoon against Russia.
After falling to a comprehensive defeat at the hands of a Wilfried Zaha-inspired Ivory Coast last week, the World Cup 2018 hosts find themselves 3-1 down at the time of writing, to Benteke’s Belgium, having taken the lead in the third minute through Viktor Vasin.
Obviously, as hosts, Russia will not be required to qualify for next summer’s tournament but if their recent performances are anything to go by, we probably shouldn’t be expecting too many miracles from them when the tournament does eventually get underway.
Unsurprisingly, given the powerful striker’s specific skill set, both of his first-half goals have come from his head, the first of which arrived in the 43rd minute after an effort from a corner was partially saved by Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, falling invitingly into Benteke’s path and giving him the simple task of directing it back into an almost empty net.
Clearly a tad shell-shocked after falling behind, the home side conceded after just two more minutes, this time failing to mark Benteke as a free-kick was floated into the penalty area. Standing roughly 10 yards from goal, the Palace frontman got above a crowd of bodies before glancing a header into the bottom right-hand corner of Akinfeev’s net with aplomb.
As I write this, the game is 52 minutes old, meaning there is every chance of the £30 million man grabbing a hat-trick before the game draws to a close. Hopefully, it’s just the confidence booster he needs ahead of a vital run-in at domestic level.