Belgium's Roberto Martinez won't rule out wholesale changes against England

Arnold Nichols
June 26, 2018

Belgium is close to advancing from Group G with two wins and will move one to the round of 16 on Sunday if England beats Panama. They look like a potential contender, but facing England in the final group stage match should tell us if this team is for real or not.

Tunisia, also without a point after two matches having extended their 40-year World Cup winless run to 13 games, are also still in with a theoretical chance of making it on through three points.

The goal means Lukaku became only the fifth Belgium player to score in back-to-back World Cup matches, with Marc Wilmots the last to do it when he scored in every group-stage game in 2002.

Fellow North Africans Egypt and Morocco have been eliminated from the World Cup and Tunisia feel compelled to stun Belgium and lessen the burden going into their last group match against Panama next Thursday.

Though Tunisia forward Wahbi Khazri struck a consolation goal in the stoppage time, the match ended 5-2 in Belgium's favour.

In what has been a hugely productive 2017-18 campaign, Lukaku has followed up his 27 goals in all competitions for United with seven goals for Belgium in June alone.

Lukaku added his second before halftime - his fourth of the finals - with another lovely finish, lifted over the Tunisia goalkeeper.

With less than five minutes on the clock, Hazard was brought down by Syam Ben Youssef.

Saturday's defeat condemned Tunisia to yet another unsuccessful attempt to reach the knockout round in five World Cups.

The second half however turned out to be extra pain for the Tunisians as Hazard and Michy Batshuayi hit targets in the 51st and 90th minutes respectively.

"The Belgian team is a superior side", Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul said.

If Belgium had one worry, though, it was allowing Tunisia to quickly score after extending its lead. This was the first time that a World Cup had four Arab teams. The Tunisian goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha went out amid scramble, while Eden Hazard tucked the ball into an empty net.

Belgium were much the better team from the off, but they were seriously aided by poor defending.

"The reality now is that we have qualified for the next round and there will be opportunities for other players, who deserve minutes and we also have to assess the injuries we have picked up in this game".

That approach nearly paid off against England in Volgograd on Monday as they frustrated Gareth Southgate's men for most of the second half after they pulled level 10 minutes before the break from the penalty spot.

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