Lukaku, Hazard bring down Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles
WORLD CUP 2018 By Robin Toskin in Moscow, Russia | June 23rd 2018
Romelu Lukaku hit a double against Tunisia to move level with Cristiano Ronaldo on four goals as the Red Devils of Belgium struck down Carthage Eagles 5-2 at the Spart Stadium, Moscow.
Captain Eden Hazard, too, helped himself to a brace as Belgium’s golden generation shifted through the gears in demolishing the Tunisians.
Mitchy Batshuayi, in for Hazard put the icing on the cake albeit after three failed attempts, to round off a spectacular Belgian performance, helped by a surprisingly a pedestrian Tunisia.
Wabhi Khazri’s side-footed finish in the last seconds of the game put a flattering gap of respectability to an otherwise desolate performance at the Spartak Stadium that ended their interest at the tournament.
After an early penalty by Hazard, Belgium raced to a two-goal lead before Tunisia clawed one back but there was no stopping Robert Martinez’s charges who breezed to the second round on six points.
On the other hand Tunisia became the third African team to be dumped out of the 2018 edition of the Fifa World Cup following Egypt and Morocco through the exit door here in Russia.
Nabil Maaloul’s Carthage Eagles had pegged back Belgium after Lukaku’s first goal of the brace, but lost their footing as the in-form Manchester United striker easily side-footed his team’s third goal on the stroke of halftime and his fourth at this tournament.
Belgium got off the blocks quickly earning a fifth minute penalty when Hazard cantered into the area only for Syam Ben Youssef to stick out a leg.
Video Assistant referee showed the Chelsea forward was clipped just marginally outside the area, but US referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the spot, which Hazard dispatched without fuss.
Tunisia’s backline appeared to be at sixes and sevens as the Belgian triumvirate of Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Lukaku attacked with verve.
In the 16th minute, Lukaku, who has been in the news complaining a lack of love from the Belgian fans extended his record as the Red Devils’ top scorer’s with 40 goals when raced inside left to fire into the bottom left corner.
Two minutes later Tunisia hit back, threatening to derail Belgium’s early initiative when Dylan Bronn rose to meet Khazri’s curling free-kick.
Despite sustained pressure and good build up from Tunisia, the Carthage Eagles lacked the sting to trouble the Belgian Red Devils.
A combination of poor defending and Belgium’s incisive passing, Paris Saint-Germain defender Thomas Munier drew out two defenders before slipping in Lukaku who finished with ease for a 3-1 halftime lead.
Belgium were unwilling to let Tunisia off the hook and when they returned from the dressing room, Hazard fastened onto a raking pass from De Bruyne from his half, to to go round goalkeeper Ben Mustapha for a simple tap in.
The score line afforded coach Martinez the luxury of resting his top guns, understandably with an eye on the tie against England in battle for top spot in Group G.
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