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Belgium vs Tunisia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Group G, Match 29
|Spartak Stadium, Moscow|
Belgium have romped to a 5-2 win over Tunisia in the highest scoring match of this World Cup to date.
Braces to both Hazard and Lukaku, and a cherry on top from Batshuiyi gave the Red Devils a comfortable victory in an attacking, entertaining game.
Bronn and Khazri were the scorers for the Desert Eagles.
Tunisia knew they needed at least a point from this game – and possibly more – to have any chance to progressing to the next round, and appeared prepared to attack from the outset.
But they were quickly forced to attack to get anything from the game, as the Belgians scored in just the sixth minute of play, after a slightly panicky foul on Hazard resulted in a penalty, and the Chelsea man completed the job from the spot.
The two sides then set about trying to create as many chances as possible. The plucky Tunisians repeatedly tried to play the ball out from their own area despite the attention of the pacey Belgian forwards, and it was a risky strategy as they gave up possession in dangerous areas.
It was on one such occasion that Belgium got their second goal, as Meertens’ intercept, run and pass put Lukaku through on goal, and he coolly slid the ball past Ben Mustapha in Tunisia’s goal.
Almost immediately the North Africans had one back. A set piece from a fairly innocuous position was delivered beautifully for Bronn to run onto a header to open the scoring for Tunisia.
They continued to push forward, occasionally causing Belgium some worries on the wings, but unlike their opponents Tunisia didn’t quite have the cutting edge up forward.
That cutting edge was on full display for Belgium’s third of the half, as another mistake at the back for Tunisia allowed De Bruyne to feed Carrasco who in turn played it through to Lukaku, who lobbed the keeper just before half time.
At the break the game appeared to be more or less decided; not only did the adventurous Tunisians trail by two goals, but they’d already been forced into two substitutions due to injury.
Tunisia continued to press, but left a lot of space at the back. Hazard capitalised once more after elegantly controlling a long ball and rounding the keeper to score Belgium’s fourth and remove all doubt.
As Martinez began to withdraw his star players there was a brief period where Belgium didn’t appear to be quite such a potent attacking threat, but that quickly subsided as Batshuiyi began to get involved off the bench, and as the Tunisians tired he eventually was able to capitalise on one of a number of chances to score a goal of his own.
In the final minute of the game the Europeans appeared to relax a little and allowed Tunisia to get a consolation game through the deserving Khazri.
This result effectively puts Tunisia out of the tournament bar some extraordinary combination of results, and in turn Belgium are likely to be through and probably will only need a draw in their final group game to finish ahead of England and top the group.
Match 29 at the FIFA World Cup sees Belgium come up against Tunisia at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 10pm (AEST).
Belgium are one of the most talked about teams at this tournament, seen as the best chance for a nation that has never previously won the World Cup to lift the trophy this time around.
They did the business in their opening game, eventually wearing down the Panamian resistance to rack up a 3-0 lead. They’ll be hoping to carry that momentum and confidence from the second half into this contest, another one they would be expected to win.
Tunisia faced another powerful European team in their opener against England, and for a long time looked like they’d get a valuable point.
But Harry Kane’s late winner cruelled their hopes and they are now staring down the barrel of elimination if they cannot get at least a point today.
You can expect the North Africans to play this game much as they did against England; sitting deep and trying to create chances on the counter. Sliti seemed to be their most promising attacking outlet and look for him to try and get in behind the Belgium defenders once they press up.
Even if they had a soft opening fixture, the way Belgium’s Red Devils grew in confidence last week was noticeable, and while many other contenders have looked shaky in their opening games they largely avoided that.
So even though Tunisia appear capable, and were a little unlucky not to get a point against England, I can’t see a reason to tip against the Belgians here.
They’ve already showed a glimpse of their attacking power and my guess is they score in the first half and run away with it as the Carthage Eagles try to chase the game.
Belgium 3 Tunisia 0