Man United's Romelu Lukaku thrives on the wing as Belgium shock Brazil

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Romelu Lukaku played out on the wing to devastating effect for Belgium.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez sprung a surprise against Brazil in Friday’s World Cup quarter-final clash as he deployed striker Romelu Lukaku on the right wing, moving Kevin de Bruyne to a centre-forward’s role.

The move worked as Lukaku’s pace out wide was a threat throughout, and he assisted De Bruyne for a goal in a 2-1 win.

Here’s a closer look at the Belgium striker’s performance.

KEY STATS

Goals – 0

Shots – 0

Assists – 1

Dribbles – 2

Key Passes – 1

Aerials won – 1

30-SECOND REPORT

This was a game where Lukaku’s value was more in his presence, as a threat the Brazilian defence had to pay attention to while the players around him were running riot. Deployed on the right wing rather than centrally, he wasn’t at his best, but his pace and movement kept creating space for De Bruyne and Eden Hazard to exploit.

GOT RIGHT

Movement – As always, Lukaku’s movement was superb. Even though he was deployed in an unfamiliar position, he always got himself into dangerous positions. Indeed, his teammates should have found him more often.

Pace – One of the reasons Martinez occasionally puts Lukaku out on the wing is because of the Manchester United man’s searing pace. That speed was crucial to Belgium’s counterattacking style.

GOT WRONG

First touch – Lukaku’s first touch was at its infamous worst again, as on more than one occasion his inability to reel the ball in cost Belgium, bringing attacks to a premature end.

Passing – Other than the pass which set up De Bruyne’s goal, Lukaku’s distribution was often inaccurate. For someone whose link-up play is usually so strong, it was a disappointment.

VERDICT

This wasn’t quite vintage Lukaku – largely because he was played out of position. Adjusting to that in a game of this magnitude showed the Manchester United man’s growth as a player. His pace on the wing constantly pushed Brazil’s defence back, and just the mere threat of his presence terrorised the Selecao back line. This was a mature, well-rounded performance from a fast-developing player.

RATING – 8/10

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Best images as Belgium knock Brazil out to reach World Cup semis after Kevin de Bruyne show

Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup by Belgium on Friday, as the game at Kazan Arena ended 2-1 in favour of Roberto Martinez’s men.

An own goal from Fernandinho in the 13th minute, followed by a Kevin De Bruyne right-footed finish in the 31st minute, proved decisive as Tite’s side went crashing out of the tournament.

Renato Augusto did manage to get one back for the Brazilians, heading in aPhilippe Coutinho cross, but the five-time champions didn’t have time to find an equaliser as Belgium booked a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Belgium will now face France in the last-four, on July 10.

In the gallery above we take a look at some of the best images from the game.

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Brazil player ratings as Neymar scores a 6 while Fernandinho has a shocker in Belgium loss

Andy West 7/07/2018
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Belgium beat World Cup favourites Brazil 2-1 on Friday to set up a semi-final against France in Saint Petersburg.

A Fernandinho own goal in the 13th minute followed by a superb Kevin De Bruyne strike just after the half-hour put Belgium in the driving seat. Brazil pulled a goal back through Renato Augusto but it was too little, too late.

Neymar had a late chance to equalise but Thibaut Courtois tipped over as Belgium clung on.

Here, we rate the Brazil team after their latest heartbreak.

BRAZIL 4-3-3

Allison 6. Was given no chance for either goal and had few other saves to make, with several Belgium efforts flashing narrowly wide.

Fagner 5. Struggled badly against the pace and trickery of Hazard and found himself unable to get forward in attack.

Silva 5. Missed a great early chance from a corner and that summed up his night. Never looked comfortable or commanding.

Miranda 5. Captain for the night but he really struggled against an inspired Lukaku, playing his part in Brazil’s defensive shortcomings.

Marcelo 5. Left a load of space for Lukaku to exploit down the left and wasn’t always up to speed going forward. Brought back too soon?

Fernandinho 3. Utterly disastrous. Unlucky with the own goal but left the midfield wide open and failed to protect his back four.

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH58-BRA-BEL

Paulinho 5. The game was too fast and technical for him, with the action passing him by. Taken off with 20 minutes left.

Coutinho 6. Peppered the Belgian goal with long-range strikes. Brazil’s best attacker and created the goal but scuffed a great late chance wide.

Willian 4. Barely any influence in the opening period, also struggling badly defensively, and was replaced at half-time.

Jesus 5. A fringe presence except one dribble which could have resulted in a penalty, replaced before the hour mark.

Neymar 6. Seemed to be struggling with injury in the first half, nowhere near his usual self, but improved after the break.

SUBSTITUTES 

Firmino 6. Linked play well after coming on at half-time. Nearly levelled with scooped shot over the top.

Costa 6. Added some incision and penetration down the right after coming on, but his final ball wasn’t often accurate.

Renato 7. Scored a well-taken header just minutes after coming off the bench and nearly scored again soon after.

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