Belgium seem to be getting better and better, maybe even the best yet at the World Cup.
It’s still early but a hugely talented Belgium squad made a big statement with a 5-2 rout of Tunisia.
No team has scored more goals than Belgium’s eight so far, and only Cristiano Ronaldo can match Romelu Lukaku’s tally of four.
Belgium have yet to face South American or European opposition, however, and playing England on Thursday should decide who advances to the round of 16 as the winner of Group H.
“In the end, we need to play better teams and have better focus,” Lukaku, who has scored two goals in each of Belgium’s two victories, said.
No player has had back-to-back World Cup games like that since Diego Maradona in 1986, though Argentina’s iconic captain did it in the quarter-final – against England – and semi-final – against Belgium – before lifting the trophy.
Though Belgiumare a long way from a first World Cup title, they have looked like the most complete attacking force in Russia.
On Saturday, Eden Hazard scored twice in the dominant display that produced the highest scoring game of tournament.
It could have been more. After replacing Hazard in the 68th minute, substitute Michy Batshuayi had several good chances before scoring in stoppage time.
“I think the whole of Belgium should celebrate,” coach Roberto Martinez, who has overseen a 21-game unbeaten run since losing to his native Spain in his first game in charge in September 2016, said.
If Belgium had one worry, though, it was allowing Tunisia to score twice. The tenacious North Africans also got five of their 15 shots on target.
The Belgians were rampant at times and had the luxury of taking off Lukaku and Hazard early in the second half to nurse injury concerns.
Martinez said Lukaku had pain in his right ankle and Hazard hurt a calf muscle.
Still, it could suit the coach to rotate his line-up against England with more decisive games ahead.
“In a tournament like the World Cup you’re only as good as the 23 players, so there will be opportunities for the other players,” Martinez said.
At at Spartak Stadium, Hazard scored with a sixth-minute penalty kick he earned by being tripped, and Lukaku angled a low, left-foot shot into the corner of Tunisia’s goal in the 16th.
“We knew that if we scored early, the game would be easy,” Hazard said. “So after five minutes we scored, and we controlled the game.”
The Tunisians cut the lead when defender Dylan Bronn headed in a goal in the 18th minute, but Belgium wasn’t done.
Lukaku clipped a right-foot shot over advancing goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha in first-half stoppage time. Hazard then ran on to a long pass in the 51st, flicked the ball around Ben Mustapha and shot into an empty net.
Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri then scored with almost the last kick of the match.
Australian Associated Press