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World Cup: Lukaku Brace Against Tunisia Equals Maradona Achievement

Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both scored twice as Belgium strengthened their lead above England at the top of Group G by crushing Tunisia with a devastating attacking display.

While Roberto Martinez’s side are not through to the last 16 yet, a win for England over Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday will see the Red Devils and Three Lions progress.

That would leave their meeting in Kaliningrad on Thursday to decide who tops the group and it is Belgium who currently hold the upper hand there, with their sparkling finishing in the sunshine at the Spartak Stadium leaving their goal difference significantly better off.

Belgium attacked from the off and took only five minutes to take the lead, when Hazard was barged over by Syam Ben Youssef just inside the box and got up to send Tunisia keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha the wrong way from the spot.

Things quickly got worse for Tunisia when Ali Maaloul’s heavy touch on the halfway line allowed Dries Mertens to nip in and release Lukaku, who found a perfect low finish.

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The North African side, needing a win to reignite their own hopes of progress, gave themselves hope when Dylan Bronn got on the end of Wahbi Khazri’s whipped free-kick just 109 seconds later.

But they could not compete with Belgium’s vastly superior firepower and Lukaku gave the Red Devils breathing space once more with a dinked finish from a Thomas Meunier pass just before half-time.

Hazard added his second goal soon after the break, racing on to a precise Toby Alderweireld pass and rounding the keeper to fire home.

That made sure of the points, but Belgium were not finished yet. Substitute Michy Batshuayi, who also had a shot cleared off the line and hit the bar from close range, finally found the target from Youri Tielemans’ cross.

Tunisia did manage a late consolation, when Khazri swept home Hamdi Nagguez’s cross but, unless Panama beat England, they will become the third African team to be eliminated, leaving Nigeria and Senegal to carry their continent’s hopes in this competition.

Lukaku equals Maradona achievement – the stats

  • Belgium have won each of their last six World Cup group stage matches – winning their last one in 2002, all three in 2014 and their opening two of this tournament.
  • Tunisia are now winless in 13 World Cup matches (D4 L9) – losing their last four in a row.
  • Lukaku has now scored more goals in major international tournaments (European Championship and World Cups) than any other Belgium player (seven).
  • Lukaku has scored 17 goals in his last 11 matches for Belgium, failing to score in just one of those matches (against Portugal earlier this month).
  • Belgium have scored five goals in a single World Cup match for the first time in their history.
  • Lukaku is the first player to score two or more goals in consecutive World Cup appearances since Diego Maradona in 1986, who scored doubles against England and Belgium.
  • Hazard’s penalty was Belgium’s second quickest goal in a World Cup match (5:59), behind only Leopold Anoul’s goal against England in 1954, in the fifth minute.
  • Belgium have won 11 of their 12 competitive matches under Roberto Martinez (D1), scoring 51 goals and conceding just eight in those games.
  • Hazard has been involved in 23 goals in his last 21 appearances for Belgium (11 goals, 12 assists).

What’s next?

Belgium finish off their campaign against England at Kaliningrad Stadium next Thursday and Tunisia face Panama in what could be a battle of the Group G basement sides at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk (both 19:00 BST).

-BBC

 

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