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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hazard and Lukaku score doubles as impressive Belgium beats Tunisia 5-2

Romelu Lukaku made it two braces in as many games and captain Eden Hazard also struck twice as fancied Belgium stormed past tunisia 5-2 on Saturday to take a big step towards the World Cup knock-out rounds.

Man-of-the-match Hazard opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty before Lukaku found the net in the 16th and first-half stoppage time. Hazard got his second in the 51st and Michy Batshuayi wrapped up matters late on.

Dylan Bronn and captain Wahbi Khazri were on target for Tunisia.

Belgium have a maximum six points from two games and will be in the last 16 if England don't lose against Panama on Sunday. In that case Tunisia would be eliminated on zero points.

Belgium are the first team of the supposed title contenders to win their first two matches in convincing fashion, the first being a 3-0 victory over Panama.

Lukaku is joint tournament top scorer with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo on four goals, and with seven goals Belgium's most successful scorer at World Cups and Euros overall, one more than Jan Ceulemans.

The outcome also meant that for the first time there have been goals in the first 27 games of a World Cup. The past mark was 26 games without a 0-0 draw from the 1954 tournament.

Saturday's success at Moscow's Spartak Stadium - packed to its 44,190 capacity - came under the eyes of Belgian king Philippe, who was sporting a Red Devils scarf.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez left his starting line-up unchanged while Tunisia's Nabil Maaloul had to field Farouk Ben Mustapha in goal for injured Mouez Hassen and brought Saifeddine Khaoui for Naim Sliti up front in two changes from their unlucky 2-1 defeat against England.

Needing a win, Tunisia could not hold back on attackwhich quickly played into Belgium's hands.

Syam Ben Youssef could only stop the charging Hazard with a foul, and the Chelsea star cooly converted the 13th spot kick of the tournament - equalling the total number of 2014 penalties - into the bottom left corner.

Ten minutes later Dries Mertens won the ball in midfield, ran up the field against and perfectly timed his pass to Lukaku who drilled into the far right corner from some 14 metres.

Tunisia fought back almost instantly from Bronn's header off Khazri's free-kick but the Africans then lost Bronn and Ben Youssef through injury, and were two goals down again at half-time.

Tunisia lost the ball again in their own half and Thomas Meunier fed Lukaku with a nice through-ball, the Manchester United striker then chipping in over Ben Mustapha.

And it was all over for Tunisia when Hazard chested a majestic pass from Kevin De Bruyne, flicked the ball past Ben Mustapha and found the net between two defenders for 4-1.

Rains started coming down and after Lukaku and Hazard left amid ovations, the Belgians added a fifth goal from the sliding sub Batshuayi who had earlier been denied by the bar while Khazri tallied the final score at the other end.



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