Lukaku, Hazard score 2 each, help Belgium beat Tunisia 5-2
MOSCOW — Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard scored two goals each in a dominant Belgium display on Saturday, leading their team over Tunisia 5-2 in the highest scoring game of the World Cup.
The Red Devils were rampant at times and rested both forwards in the second half for tougher tests ahead. A spot in the round of 16 is almost certain after an opening 3-0 win over Panama.
Belgium had a two-goal lead within 16 minutes. Hazard scored with a sixth-minute penalty kick he earned by being tripped, and Lukaku angled a low, left-foot shot into the corner of the opposing goal.
“We knew that if we scored early, the game would be easy,” Hazard said. “So after five minutes we scored, and we controlled the game.”
The Tunisians cut the lead when defender Dylan Bronn headed in a goal in the 18th minute, but Belgium wasn’t done.
Lukaku clipped a right-foot shot over advancing goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha in first-half stoppage time to match Cristiano Ronaldo with four goals as the tournament’s top scorers.
Hazard then ran on to a long pass in the 51st, flicked the ball around Ben Mustapha and shot into an empty net. Substitute Michy Batshuayi made it a rout in stoppage time, and failed with three other good scoring chances.
Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri got his team’s second with almost the last kick of the match.
Belgium has shown the most complete attacking force at the World Cup, though without yet playing a European or South American team.
Against England on Thursday, Belgium will be favored to advance as the winner of Group H.
The temperature inside the tightly packed Spartak Stadium was 28 degrees C (82 degrees F) at kickoff, and rising humidity spilled into heavy rain.
Earning the penalty kick, Hazard darted forward at speed and was clipped by Syam Ben Youssef. Video review confirmed the trip was on the white line of the penalty area, not outside as Tunisia claimed.
Tunisia’s defense was unsettled by two first-half injuries. Bronn and Ben Youssef were both replaced after leaving the field on stretchers.
Belgium has all but qualified from Group G with two wins.
A point from Belgium’s last game against England on Thursday in Kaliningrad will ensure a place in the round of 16.
KEY TO SUCCESS
Belgium pressed Tunisia into giving up the ball in its own half, and attacked with pace and skill in a dizzying mix of talented play.
Tunisia also used pace and direct running to expose Belgium’s defense, though rarely tested goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.