Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both scored braces as Belgium made light work of Tunisia, securing a 5-2 win in their World Cup Group G clash on Saturday.
Tunisia pulled one back through Dylan Bronn within the next two minutes but their two-goal cushion was restored on the stroke of half-time when the Manchester United striker scored his second.
Hazard then struck again six minutes into the second period while substitute Michy Batshuayi added a fifth at the death for the Red Devils.
There was still time however for Wahbi Khazri to score another for Tunisia in stoppage time.
Here, we analyse Lukaku’s performance.
Goals – 2
Shots – 2
Shots on target – 2
Touches – 26
Key passes – 2
Aerial duels won – 5
Lukaku led the line in an unchanged 3-4-3 for Belgium. After a frustrating first half against Panama, the striker was happy to capitalise on the space he was afforded in this encounter.
He used the forward runs of Hazard and Dries Mertens intelligently to peel to away from defenders and into space. Lukaku took both his finishes expertly but could have had even more in his 58-minute display.
With two goals from two shots, it’s no secret that Lukaku’s finishing was at its best but it was his movement to create those chances for himself that was equally impressive.
He cleverly arced away to the far side to receive the ball in space, used a slight drop of his shoulder to create a yard and score his first. A quick dart behind the back-line saw him latch onto Thomas Meunier’s pass for his second.
His most prominent weakness was evident even in this otherwise commanding performance. A frequently poor first touch has let him down on several occasions and cost him a goal this time around as well.
Kevin De Bruyne’s through ball afforded him a one-on-one with the keeper but a heavy touch saw him eventually run it out for a goal-kick. That was one of three bad touches before he was replaced within the hour.
Lukaku appears to be in at his clinical best in this tournament and looks set to give Cristiano Ronaldo a run for him money in the race for the Golden Boot after drawing level with the Portugal star on four goals.
He became the first player in 32 years – since Diego Maradona – to score more than one goal in back-to-back World Cup matches. His early substitution was testament to his importance to the side with Roberto Martinez keen to keep him fresh going forward.
RATING – 8/10
Belgium did what England couldn’t do and made light work of Tunisia in a five-star show on Saturday afternoon.
While the Red Devils were fairly open at the back, it didn’t matter as quite feasibly they could have scored 10 if not for some profligate finishing.
Check out our ratings below …
Thibaut Courtois – Belgium had squalls of pressure to deal with but Courtois was only forced into a few routine saves, and could do nothing about Dylan Bronn’s header. 6
Toby Alderweireld – Wonder pass to Hazard, from his own half, sealed the game for Belgium. Distribution from the back is a key asset – will he be able to bypass England too? 8
Dedryck Boyata – Clearly the junior partner in the three-man defence. Looked unsettled at times, particularly in dealing with the lively Anice Badri. 6
Jan Vertonghen – Took a blow to the head in the second half but it was the only time he was dazed by the Tunisians all day. 7
Thomas Meunier – Marauding wing-back was everywhere for the Red Devils – he clamped down his flank and his sumptuous assist for Lukaku’s second was the highlight of a fine attacking performance, too. 8
Kevin De Bruyne – Understated presence with Hazard et al wreaking havoc in front of him – some gorgeous touches however sent many attacks going. Toyed with the Tunisians in the end with a few fancy flicks, before being subbed ready for England on Thursday. 8
Axel Witsel – Does not have the class of a De Bruyne though kept it simple and is an important screen for the defence. Guilty of ball-watching on occasion when Tunisia got in behind. 7
Yannick Carrasco – Did not see as much of the ball down the left as Meunier on the other side but made it count when he did with two chance-creating passes. Bent a wicked shot just wide of the post. 7
Dries Mertens – Played second fiddle to Hazard – before his partner-in-crime went off. Took on the responsibility and set up the wasteful Batshuayi with two glorious chance. Also provided the final pass for Lukaku’s first. 7
Eden Hazard – Endured an injury-hit, up-and-down season with Chelsea but perhaps that’s just kept him fresh for the big one. Won and converted a penalty before rounding the goalkeeper for his second. Not just about the goals, though. Bursting with pretty, incisive passing and defence-stretching dribbles. 9
Romelu Lukaku – Funny how good he looks when his back is not always towards goal – Jose Mourinho, take note. Two super finishes and could have had a hat-trick but for a rare poor touch to De Bruyne’s through ball. 8
Maroune Fellaini – Played in a deeper midfield role when Lukaku was brought off and kept the ball ticking over nicely while remaining diligent in defence. 6
Michy Batshuayi – Doesn’t deserve a high grade despite scoring. Found a defender when faced with an opening goal and though Tunisia keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha did well to deny him a further three times, the gulf in class from Lukaku was obvious. 5
Youri Tielemans – On for just five minutes and made the most of it, curling the ball in for Batshuayi who scored – at long last. 7
The Mexican team have been reveling in being able to eat tacos again in Russia after avoiding domestic red meat due to the fact the country has a history of producing meat contaminated with Clenbuterol.
Clenbuterol is used to promote muscle growth in livestock, but also banned as a performance-enhancing substance in athletes.
The squad has brought two tons of food along with them to Russia, but none of the meat will be coming from Mexico itself.
But, since arriving in Europe for the World Cup, red meat has finally been put back on the menu for the players.
The plan obviously worked for Mexico’s opening match, where their high-tempo game plan overwhelmed defending champions Germany, with PSV winger Herving Lozano scoring the only goal of the game in a momentous 1-0 win.
“Players ask for their quesadillas and their tacos and that really helps psychologically, because you bring them closest to home,” said squad nutritionist Boullosa, as reported by The Guardian, who rejoined the Mexican backroom staff in 2015.
She was previously part of the staff that helped Mexico win the under-17 world title in 2011, and she also worked for the Olympic team that won the gold medal in 2012.
“We brought a lot of food and we also brought a chef to make every dish as the player likes it, we are making corn tortillas that taste like glory.”
When used for performance enhancement, Clenbuterol increases lean muscle mass and reduces body fat.
Agriculturally, although outlawed in most countries, it can be used on cattle, lamb, poultry and swine. The World Anti-Doping Agency has, in the past, issued specific warnings about the problem with agricultural usage in both China and Mexico.
In 2011, five players from Mexico’s squad tested positive for Clenbuterol, among them Guillermo Ochoa, the starting goalkeeper in this World Cup.
The country’s football federation ruled the positive tests were caused by contaminated meat. More recently, Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez tested positive for the same substance, forcing the postponement of his rematch with Gennady Golovkin.
Having gone without while in Mexico, the squad were allowed to start eating red meat once they arrived in Denmark for a pre-World Cup friendly.
“Players are carnivorous by nature and they are happy to get the red meat back on their diet, and in nutrition terms it was also important,” Boullosa added.
She also revealed that one vital ingredient for their diet has come from the homeland, however – hot sauces.
“We made a spicy chili-peanut sauce that is delicious, and we also have traditional salsas, some of the super spicy and some mild ones,” added Boullosa. “We also brought cans of beans and corn. We are super loaded.”