Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard braces lead Belgium to easy win vs. Tunisia
Belgium 5 - 2 Tunisia

Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard braces lead Belgium to easy win vs. Tunisia

23/06/2018

Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard became only the fifth pair of teammates to each score two goals under the World Cup's current format as Belgium moved closer to securing passage to the knockout rounds with an easy 5-2 dismissal of Tunisia in Moscow.

Lukaku, who also had a brace against Panama on Monday, has scored 17 goals in his last 11 international games, Hazard scored his first two World Cup goals with a penalty in the opening minutes and Michy Batshuayi capped off the scoring late.

The defeat means Tunisia, who have not won in the World Cup since 1978 -- a run of 13 games -- will exit the tournament if England pick up a point on Sunday against Panama.

And Belgium, who wrap up Group G against England on Thursday, may confront fitness concerns with Lukaku, who had his right ankle worked on in the first half before coming off in the 59th minute with the result no longer in question.

Hazard scored the opener on a sixth-minute penalty, converting after he was taken down just inside the right of the area by Syam Ben Youssef.

It was the second-earliest goal scored by a Belgium player at a World Cup after Leopold Anoul scored in the fifth minute in 1954.

And Hazard doubled his total in the 51st minute, scoring on an open net after he ran under a pass from Toby Alderweireld and worked his way around goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha before finishing.

Lukaku, meanwhile, doubled Belgium's lead in the 16th minute, scoring left-footed from the left channel after Dries Mertens forced a turnover.

Tunisia answered two minutes later from Dylan Bronn's header, as the defender made glancing contact on Wahbi Khazri's corner to beat Thibaut Courtois into the bottom right corner.

Belgium nearly answered several times in the remainder of the first half, with Hector Carrasco and Axel Witsel both missing quality chances.

Lukaku, though, came through in added time with the third goal, moments after Kevin De Bruyne missed the striker in the box by mere inches.

After Ali Maaloul fought to keep the ball inbounds, Thomas Meunier controlled it at midfield and worked it to De Bruyne, who sent it back to Meunier. Lukaku then ran ahead and, with Ben Mustapha drawn forward, Lukaku chipped it over the goalkeeper from nine yards out.

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.

Hazard left the game in the 68th minute, with Germany's Andre Schurrle and Toni Kroos, who did so in the 7-1 victory over Brazil in the semifinals in 2014, the last two players to score two goals each in a World Cup game.

Batshuayi, who came on for Hazard, had three quality chances to score in an increasingly driving rain before finally converting.

He beat Ben Mustapha in the 76th minute, only to fail to get his full left foot on the ball and watch as Yassine Meriah swept it away.

Four minutes later, he hit the crossbar after Carrasco's drive -- though he would have been ruled offside -- and just after that, he sent his drive directly into the goalkeeper's chest.

Only in the 90th minute, after Youri Tielemans found him in the box, did Batshuayi tally his first World Cup goal, and Khazri answered in the 93rd minute, moments before the full-time whistle.

Belgium are now unbeaten over their last 21 matches.

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