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Belgium vs Costa Rica
Pre-World Cup International Friendly
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Belgium have sent an ominous warning to the rest of the footballing world ahead of Russia 2018, demolishing Costa Rica 4-1.
Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku scored a brace for Belgium, while teammates Dries Mertens and Michy Batshuayi also found the back of the net. However, the Red Devils left the match with an injury concern, star man and captain Eden Hazard limping off the field in the 70th minute after copping a knock to the thigh.
Earlier, Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz had opened the scoring in the 24th minute, but that was as good as it got for the 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists.
Costa Rica 1
Belgium take on Costa Rica in what is both sides’ final friendly before they depart for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 4:45am (AEST).
Belgium have a surprisingly strong squad and are seen as the ‘dark horse’ of the World Cup.
In a group with England, Panama and Tunisia, Belgium are expected to go through to the next round without too much trouble.
They’ve won two of their three international friendlies this year, with Portugal holding them to a nil-all draw.
However, 3-nil and 4-nil wins over Egypt and Saudi Arabia respectively prove that they can and will give weaker sides a lot of trouble.
Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku is expected to lead the line for the Belgians, after what has been a disappointing season for him, however the key man to watch is Kevin De Bruyne.
De Bruyne played a vital role in Manchester City’s Premier League title win and was just edged off the Player of the Year award by Liverpool’s Mohammad Salah.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, are the underdogs of their group, which consists of Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland.
Coming off a 2-nil loss to England in their last friendly, Costa Rica have had an inconsistent run to the World Cup. Of the four friendlies they’ve played this year they’ve only won two – against non-qualifying sides Northern Ireland and Scotland.
In that time they also suffered a 1-nil loss to Tunisia.
What Costa Rica do have, however, is great talent at the very front and back of their squads.
Arsenal striker Joel Campbell is currently on loan at Real Betis and impressed at the last World Cup, while Keylor Navas is Real Madrid’s number one goalkeeper.
Belgium have a much stronger squad and will be looking to build some momentum, but international friendlies are hardly ever intense and both sides will be looking to not take any risks to key players.
Belgium 2 – 0 Costa Rica
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 4:45am (AEST).