Bel­gium on the verge of World Cup’s last 16

Sunday Times - - Sport | Russia 2018 -

● Romelu Lukaku drew level with Cris­tiano Ron­aldo at the top of the World Cup goalscor­ing charts yes­ter­day, scor­ing twice as Bel­gium moved to the brink of the last 16 af­ter a 5-2 romp against Tu­nisia.

The vic­tory leaves the Red Devils top of Group G with two wins ahead of their clash on Thurs­day against Eng­land, who play Panama to­day. Af­ter also scor­ing twice in the open­ing 3-0 win against Panama, Manch­ester United’s Lukaku showed clin­i­cal fin­ish­ing with two first-half goals in Moscow, match­ing Ron­aldo’s tally in Rus­sia.

Not to be out­done, Bel­gium cap­tain Eden Haz­ard scored in ei­ther half, in­clud­ing an early penalty at the Spar­tak Sta­dium, be­fore sub­sti­tute Michy Bat­shuayi added their fifth.

Tu­nisia’s goals came from de­fender Dy­lan Bronn and cap­tain Wahbi Khazri.

Haz­ard was sent tum­bling af­ter just five min­utes but con­verted the penalty.

Penalty ap­peal

Mid­fielder Fer­jani Sassi picked up an early book­ing for com­plain­ing when Tu­nisia’s ap­peals for a penalty fell on deaf ears, just be­fore Bel­gium added their sec­ond goal. Ali Maaloul’s weak pass on the halfway line was col­lected by Dries Mertens, who sprinted away and put Lukaku clear.

The striker coolly hit his shot in­side the far post in the 16th minute.

Tu­nisia re­sponded two min­utes later, Bronn leap­ing high­est to head home a free­kick from his skip­per Khazri on 18 min­utes.

With half time ap­proach­ing, the Bel­gians grabbed their third goal through Lukaku.

Thomas Me­u­nier put him in be­hind the de­fence and Lukaku tucked his shot away, cel­e­brat­ing with Kevin De Bruyne, who started the move. The Manch­ester City mae­stro turned provider again af­ter the break for Haz­ard.

The Chelsea star sprinted onto De Bruyne’s lofted pass, held off two de­fend­ers, rounded keeper Ben Mustapha and tapped in Bel­gium’s fourth goal in the 51st minute.

Coach Roberto Martinez took off Lukaku, then Haz­ard as the half wore on and for the fi­nal 22 min­utes brought on Bat­shuayi.

The Borus­sia Dort­mund for­ward got Bel­gium’s fifth goal.

Tu­nisia cap­tain Khazri grabbed their sec­ond goal just be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle of their sec­ond de­feat in Rus­sia.

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