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Powerful Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku on form and on
target despite conflicting opinions from coach and captain

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Romelu Lukaku was virtually unplayable as Belgium cruised to a 5-2 win over Tunisia on Saturday afternoon to all but assure their place in the last 16 of the World Cup, however, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and captain Eden Hazard seem to have different opinions over his role in the side.

During the week Hazzard revealed he has criticized Lukaku for his first half display against Panama in Belgium’s opening group game.

Lukaku netted two second half goals, but Hazard told the press, he had asked for more commitment from the powerful striker.

"I told Romelu (at halftime) that if we wanted to win the game, we need him, not just to score goals, but for him to be involved in the build-up and things like that," said Hazard.

Nobody can accuse the striker of hiding in the first half against Tunisia as he scored twice to help his side virtually wrap up the game and a place in the last 16 by halftime.

He now sits level with Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the ‘Golden Boot’ in Russia with four goals and he could have had even more if coach Roberto Martinez had not decided to substitute him with over half an hour still to play.

Nevertheless his display has put Lukaku in the record books as the first player to score more than one goal in consecutive games since Diego Maradona in Mexico 1986.

"He’s not here to be the top scorer at the World Cup, he’s here to help the team to win and do his job.

"His role is of someone who can score goals," said Martinez shortly after the final whistle in Moscow.

Martinez, who spent 28 million pounds to buy Lukaku from Chelsea in July 2014 when he was coach of Everton, has a different view over Lukaku’s role in the Belgium side than Eden Hazard.

"I know Rom well, I spent the biggest amount in Everton’s history on a player because of the quality of his finishing, not because he was a player that could contribute things other than scoring goals," he said.

So should Lukaku in the build-up or save his strength for the rival penalty area?

So far it doesn’t seem to matter what he does, he keeps getting better and better and with Hazzard, Kevin de Bruyne and Yannick Carrasco all in form, Belgium are joint top scorers in Russia with 8 goals from just two games.
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UPDATES:

Lukaku becomes top scorer as Belgium thump Tunisia with goal rain

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Belgium earned its own goal record in World Cup matches by beating Tunisia with a stunning 5-2 victory in the Spartak Stadium here on Saturday afternoon.

Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku both scored twice, with the latter moving to top of the scorer list, level with glitzy Portugal footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Tunisians who registered two goals as consolation also impressed the 44,190 spectators with their struggle.

It was hot in Moscow as temperature reached 29 degrees Celsius, but the competition on the pitch was even hotter.

Belgium, with a win over Panama in its opening match, were eager to get another victory so as to advance to the knockout stage.

Whereas Tunisia, suffering from a last-minute defeat in previous match against England, must grab this chance if they didn’t want to be eliminated.

The first goal came soon after opening of the game, when Chelsea forward Eden Hazard was tripped and fell on the right line of the box.

Penalty was ruled following VAR confirmation, and Hazard sent the ball into the net briskly.

The Red Devils, who were in yellow for the first time in major tournaments, almost doubled the lead six minutes later.

Lukaku rushed down the right and crossed to Hazard, who fired at the goal.

The Tunisian goalkeeper acted rapidly to clutch the ball.

Then real chance came in the 16th minute, when Lukaku, forward of Manchester United, received a right back cross and prodded it into the bottom right corner.

The Carthage Eagles responded with fiercer attack. Midfielder Wahbi Khazri clipped in a free-kick while Dylan Bronn nodded it into the bottom right.

On the stroke of half time Lukaku had another chance, but the ball was overcooked.

He managed to redeem on minute later, as Thomas Meunier glides into Lukaku for his second goal.

The on-fire Belgium maintained their edge in the second half.

Kevin De Bruyne blazed down the middle.

The Tunisian goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha went out amid scramble, while Eden Hazard tucked the ball into an empty net.

But Ben Mustapha showed his excellence by keeping out many shots, including one from close range by Yannick Carrasco in the 79th minute.

Substitute Micky Batshuayi blast again, only to see the ball bouncing between the bar and the ground.

The sun rain, which started after an hour mark, didn’t stop, and nor did the rain of goals.

The Borussia Dortmund forward kept on attacking and got his reward on the full-time stroke.

Youri Tielemans curled in from the right while Batshuayi slotted in.

But this is not the ending.

Three minutes later, Tunisian captain Wahbi Khazri steered a cross from Hamdi Naguez who dribbled from the right.

The final effort won cheers from Tunisian fans for their persistence.

The Tunisian coach Maaloul Nabil apologized at the press conference to the Tunisian fans.

"As expected, it was a very difficult match," he said.

"Ever since we were drawn into this group we knew Belgium were going to be a tough opponent ...

"However, we did our best and we will try to improve our performance in the future."

The two countries met three times, with one victory each and a draw at the 2002 World Cup.

This match added a ninth 5-2 in World Cup history, with the first of such score also created by Belgium—in 1934 Belgium was defeated by Germany.

The result put Belgium in an advantageous place to advance into the knockout stage.

"Today is a game that suits our style," said the coach for Belgium Roberto Martinez, 44.

"You need to give huge credit to Tunisia.

"They wanted to win from the beginning.

"They wanted to press really high.

"I think the credit that we deserve is we took the opportunities well. "

The former English club midfielder attributed their victory to the attitude of players.

"Working hard, defending well and reacting as a group," he said.

Talking about Lukaku he said:

"He always tries to score as many goals as he can.

"Today what we have is the opportunity to show his individual talent.

"I think he is like other players, well aware that we must keep working, keep getting better as a team."

Next Thursday Tunisia will play against Panama while Belgium will vie against England.
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Belgium coach Martinez: the team is still growing

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- The Belgium team is still growing, and there is room for improvement, said its coach Roberto Martinez after the team just achieved a devastating 5-2 victory over Tunisia in World Cup Group G match in the Spartak Stadium here on Saturday afternoon.

This is the first time Belgium have registered five goals in a World Cup match.

Belgium, with a win over Panama in its opening match, stand on top of the group with six points while England will play Panama on Sunday in their second round group match.

"Today it is a game that suits our style," Martinez said.

"You need to give huge credit to Tunisia.

"The way they set to play a game, they wanted to win from the beginning, they wanted to press really high.

"I think the credit that we deserve is we took the opportunities well.

"But ... we are still growing and there are things that we need to do better."

Belgium’s first goal came soon when captain Eden Hazard converted a penalty.

Then Romelu Lukaku doubled the lead 10 minutes later.

The Carthage Eagles responded with fiercer attack, with midfielder Wahbi Khazri clipping in a free-kick while Dylan Bronn nodding it into the bottom right.

"I don’t think we kept the ball well enough," said the 44-year-old coach who was a former English league midfielder.

"In certain moments that with a two-goal lead, we probably should have controlled a little bit better."

But he saw improvement of the team.

"The understanding between players is really really good.

"We are still in a process," he said.

Of the five goals, two were scored by Chelsea forward Hazard, two by Manchester United player Lukaku and one by substitute Micky Batshuayi.

Lukaku has now moved to top of the score list, level with glitzy Portugal footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Talking about Lukaku, he said: "he always tries to score as many goals as he can.

"Today what we have is the opportunity to show his individual talent.

"I think he is like other players, well aware that we must keep working, keep getting better as a team."

He attributed the victory to players’ right attitude.

"Working hard, defending well and reacting as a group," he said.

"To have that many of goals you need to be well-organized, in relationship and attitude," he said.

"Today what I saw is a team that is prepared to suffer, prepared to work for each other.

"We look well balanced in that respect.

"If you have got that, the individuals can show their talents."

When asked by Xinhua reporter about the two national team players Yannick Carrasco and Axel Witsel, Martinez said that they have concerns that the duo might see their form dropping in the Chinese Super League but their concerns proved to be unnecessary.

"As you saw today, the players have developed stronger mentality, because they have become big players in big projects.

"I don’t think there is anything negative for anyone going to Chinese football.

So from that aspect, it has been very satisfying to see Yannick and Axel growing in human level on individual role in Chinese football."

Looking into the future, Martinez said that "winning is always the best form to gain confidence".

"In football, it is very straightforward," he said.

"Winning the first two games is essential.

"To qualify at this stage is vital for us."

           

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