Braces from Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku secured three points for the Red Devils against Tunisia and maintained their perfect start in Group G.

By Luis Miguel Echegaray
June 23, 2018

Belgium continued its impressive attacking run at the World Cup, beating Tunisia 5-2 thanks to braces from Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku and a late strike from Michy Batshuayi on Saturday.

The win gives Belgium six points and eight goals through two games, and the Red Devils are all but secured in the last 16 in Russia. It would take Panama wins over England and Tunisia and a Belgium loss to England, all while having its large goal differential neutralized to keep Belgium from the knockout rounds.

The match started at a rapid pace, as in the first two minutes, Lukaku was clear on goal with only the keeper to beat, but Farouk Ben Mustapha just about left his line quick enough to clear the opportunity. 

The threat kept coming, as a minute later the official awared Belgium a penalty. The foul seemed outside the box at first, but upon further review through VAR, Hazard was taken down right on the line of the box, and the PK call stood. Hazard converted, and just like that, it was 1-0 to the Red Devils.

The goal also marked 27 matches from the beginning without a scoreless draw, a new World Cup record.

The match improved for Roberto Martinez's side as moments later Lukaku made it 2-0 thanks to a great finish in the bottom right corner.

Tunisia responded shortly after Belgium's celebrations, as Nabil Maaloul's side got one back thanks to a great set piece from Wahbi Khazri, which was met by Dylan Bronn's header. 

The goal provided another bolt of energy for Tunisia as just after 30 minutes, Ferjani Sassi's chance from just outside the box ultimately went wide of Thibaut Courtois' goal. Another attempt from Khazri tried to sneak in, but the Chelsea stopper was up to the task.   

As we neared the first half, Tunisia was forced to make another change due to injury and that made it two substitutions in the space of 40 minutes. It wasn't exactly ideal for a side who was looking to equalize against one of the best teams in the tournament. 

And just before the whistle blew, Lukaku picked up a great ball from Thomas Meunier and made it 3-1, scoring his fourth goal in the tournament to pull even with Cristiano Ronaldo atop the Golden Boot standings.

In the second half, Tunisia knew the only option was to gamble, so you sensed a more aggressive approach where more players committed offensively in the final third. Courtois was busy right from the get-go. 

But just as Tunisia was feeling comfortable, Hazard attacked once again. The Chelsea star chested down a great ball from Toby Alderweireld and put it past the keeper for his second of the day, making it 4-1. 

The avalanche of offensive firepower kept coming, however, as Michy Batshuayi came off the bench and hit the crossbar from close range. Moments later, Batshuayi missed another chance as his great turn inside the box was not rewarded with a goal.

But moments later, the striker finally made the opponent pay with a close finish, thus cementing an overwhelming victory.

Tunisia pulled a final goal back through Khazri, who was very impressive throughout and grabbed another consolation goal for the African side. 

In the end, it was all Belgium, though. The side secured its second victory in Group G, all but confirming its place in the knockout stage. If England draws with or beats Panama on Sunday, Belgium will be through.


Here were the lineups for both teams:


Here are the rosters for both sides:

BELGIUM

Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)

Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli)

Manager: Roberto Martinez

TUNISIA

Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha (Al Shabab), Moez Hassen (Chateauroux), Aymen Mathlouthi (Al Baten)

Defenders: Rami Bedoui (Etoile du Sahel), Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City), Syam Ben Youssef (Kasimpasa), Dylan Bronn (Gent), Oussama Haddadi (Dijon), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Yassine Meriah (CS Sfaxien), Hamdi Nagguez (Zamalek)

Midfielders: Anice Badri (Esperance), Mohamed Amine Ben Amor (Al Ahli Riyadh), Ghaylene Chaalali (Esperance), Ahmed Khalil (Club Africain), Saifeddine Khaoui (Troyes), Ferjani Sassi (Al Nasr), Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier), Naim Sliti (Dijon), Bassem Srarfi (Nice)

Forwards: Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al Ittifaq), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain), Wahbi Khazri (Rennes)

Manager: Nabil Maaloul

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