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Saturday 22 September 2018

Lukaku double boosts Belgium

Belgium 3 Panama 0

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates his second goal against Panama. AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates his second goal against Panama. AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

A stunning volley from Dries Mertens and a Romelu Lukaku double broke the resistance of a brave Panama side on their World Cup debut as Belgium cruised to a 3-0 win in their opening Group G game yesterday.

Mertens hammered home a superb volley two minutes into the second half, sending the ball arcing over Jaime Penedo after Panama struggled to clear a cross.

Lukaku's hard work up front was rewarded when he headed home Kevin De Bruyne's brilliant pass off the outside off his foot to make it 2-0 in the 69th minute and the big striker latched on to an Eden Hazard pass to complete the scoring with a neat finish.

The Belgians showcased an array of clever set-pieces and will be happy with their performance against a physical Panama side ahead of games against Tunisia and England.

"That first win in the World Cup is always a special moment. Panama, as we expected, played very organised, very well-drilled (but) we were patient," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.

"The second half, that little bit of quality of Dries Mertens and then Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku with Kevin De Bruyne being instrumental in those attacks.

"It was tough. A long run-up to the World Cup and finally you have the first match and everybody expects so much," Martinez added.

"You have such an urge to run and do your thing and then you notice your legs don't co-operate. You see it with every team in their first match. I hope the second match goes better," the Spaniard added.

Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez said: "It is a result that can't be positive because we lost 3-0 but they could have won by a landslide."

Dries Mertens volleys Belgium into the lead. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Dries Mertens volleys Belgium into the lead. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Romelu Lukaku heads in Belgium's second goal. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Romelu Lukaku heads in Belgium's second goal. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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