Lukaku hands Belgium 1-0 win over Croatia in warm-up match
FOOTBALL By Reuters | June 7th 2021
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku underlined his status as one of the world’s top strikers with his 60th international goal to secure a 1-0 win over Croatia in their Euro 2020 warm-up on Sunday.
Lukaku struck from a goalmouth scramble in the 38th minute to win the match for the top-ranked Belgians, who will start the Euros in confident mood after a convincing performance.
They shrugged off a bright start from Croatia to enjoy a comfortable victory, which might have had a more commanding scoreline had they taken all of their chances, as they confirmed their status as one the Euro 2020 favourites.
The goal came when fellow European Championship contenders Croatia failed to clear a corner and Lukaku was first to swivel and hook the ball home after Jason Denayer laid it on for him.
Lukaku had crashed a powerful strike against the crossbar seven minutes earlier as he shrugged off three markers to turn and fire goalwards. Yannick Carrasco was first to the rebound but sent his header against the bar too.
Lukaku should have had a second goal three minutes from the end but Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made a goal-line stop at point-blank range to keep out his powerful header.
Carrasco and Nacer Chadli blazed good chances wide while Croatia’s best opportunity fell to substitute Josip Brekalo in stoppage time but he was denied by keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Captain Eden Hazard made his first appearance for Belgium since November 2019 as a substitute for the last eight minutes as he searches for fitness after an injury-plagued season.
It increases the forward's chances of starting Saturday’s Group B match against Russia in St Petersburg.
Croatia, runners-up at the World Cup three years ago, start their Group D campaign against England at Wembley next Sunday.
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