Lukaku scores twice as Belgium thrash Panama

19 Juin, 2018, 12:45 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Eden Hazard Belgium 2018

Belgium are among the favourites to lift the trophy in Russian Federation and looked the part against the debutant Central Americans, but coach Roberto Martinez cautioned that the result didn't change the Red Devils' outlook.

Panama captain Roman Torres did his best to repel Belgium's attacks during his side's 3-0 defeat on June 18.

The opening goal came as a relief to the Belgians, who have seen other favourites struggle against well-organised opponents in the opening round of World Cup games.

An eye-catching volley from Dries Mertens ended Panama's resistance two minutes after the restart, and Manchester United striker Lukaku followed with two tidy finishes of his own to make the scoreline more convincing.

That was until Mertens relieved the pressure growing on the Red Devils with a skilful volley on 47 minutes, instinctively lifting the ball over Penedo and inside the far post after Panama had squandered several chances to clear. His players bring solid global experience as well, with the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and UEFA EURO 2016 under their belts, and they now hope to reach a whole new level in Russian Federation.

The announcement of the first team to represent the Central American nation at the World Cup finals was greeted by an ear-splitting roar from the thousands of flag-waving Panamanian fans dotted in clusters around the Fisht Stadium.

A shaky first-half performance by Belgium was replaced by a confident, attacking group in the second that was finally able to find gaps in Panama's defence and convert those chances into goals. Interestingly, each of the Belgium's last 11 goals in the World Cup have come after half-time, suggesting a lethargy at the start of the game.

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Belgium open what they hope will be a fruitful World Cup campaign against Panama on Monday. But while the Belgians had the younger, talented players, other factors played in Panama's favour.

Luminaries like Panama President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez and baseball star Mariano Rivera were in attendance.

Gianluigi Buffon isn't at the World Cup this summer thanks to Italy's disastrous run in the lead up to this summer's tournament but worry no more, we have an alternative.

While having Alli and Lingard might benefit England against Panama, it could be a problem against Belgium, where it will be the naturally attacking-minded duo's responsibility to pick up De Bruyne. Adolfo Machado will likely line up at right back for Panama and must be disciplined and tuck in to support his central partners to ensure that his side do not fall victim to Hazard's old tricks.

Panama's defence was stingy but also disorganized at times and became even more susceptible after Mertens' goal forced Panama to push forward looking for an equalizer.

All eyes will be on Eden Hazard during Belgium's clash with Panama. Martinez said the amount of hits Hazard took is a concern. Tunisia on Saturday and England next Thursday will be very different propositions, he said.

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