MOSCOW (Reuters) – With two goals each for Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard and a goal for Michy Batshuayi, Belgium won a 5-2 win over World Cup Group G on Saturday against Tunisia and proved their status tournament favorites.
After two wins and a goal difference of six Belgium is almost certain there will be progress, but it is not yet guaranteed – and they will realize that they need to be close in defense to take the risk of big shots into the tournament.
Should Belgium lose its final against England, currently at three, and if pointless Panama defeated England and Tunisia, all three would have six points and the first two would decide on goal difference, though it would need a football freak show, to stop Roberto Martinez's side.
Tunisia, which remained without points after two games and extended its 40-year World Cup run to 13 games, still has the theoretical chance to win by three points.
"It's not easy to score so many goals in two matches," said Belgium coach Martinez following a 3-0 win over Panama.
"Today Panama was a different game, they were very deep and structured, we had to find solutions, you have to give Tunisia a lot of credit, because you want to push high and make it a really open game, it's really good for
"We had to suffer in spells, but when we were in full swing, we look very sharp. In addition, you have the talent and the quality, but since we were together, it has been a pleasure to see a group of players working so hard.
Belgium was a better team right from the start and looked dangerously close to almost any attack, but they were seriously supported and helped by some ragged defensive and non-existent flags of their opponents.
Syam Ben Youssef crashed in Hazard to sink a penalty in the sixth minute, which the captain quietly transformed.
Ali Maaloul parried the ball after 16 minutes, before Dries Mertens shot forward and Pushing him into Lukaku's run
Tunisia struck back with a header from Dylan Bronn two minutes later when Belgium's shaky defender fed his goal-hungry striker after Thomas Meunier made another mistake when Lukaku struck 3-1 in stoppage time
After scoring twice against Panama, he scored four goals for the tournament, ahead of Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo one and a half games he was the top scorer in Belgium at a single World Cup.
After a perfect pass from Kevin de Bruyne, Hazard came on in the second minute after the break. The midfielder showed an excellent balance and showed goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha. Substitute Batshuayi had a remarkable performance in the final 20 minutes when he cleared a shot from the line, inexplicably slammed into the crossbar from an unauthorized position and was again staged brilliantly.
Belgium had been on cruise control in the last half hour, with Hazard and Lukaku for a break, although the North Africans had scored the final word as Wahbi Khazri in injury time.
"The Belgian team is a superior team," said Tunisian national coach Nabil Maaloul. "We would like to apologize to the Tunisian fans, we have done our best and we will try to improve our performance in the future."
Coverage by Mitch Phillips, Editor of Christian Radnedge