Belgium 5-2 Tunisia: Belgians on the brink of last-16 after five-star performance
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Belgium 5-2 Tunisia: Belgians on the brink of last-16 after five-star performance

There was no upset at the Otkritie Arena today as Belgium eased to victory against a poor Tunisia side to cruise to the last-16 of the World Cup

Joshua Kerr

Belgium are on the verge of the last-16 of the World Cup after a comfortable 5-2 win saw them on maximum points from their opening two games.

They are relying on England to beat Panama tomorrow to confirm their qualification to the knockout stages of the competition which would see both the Red Devils and the Three Lions progress.

A first half full of goals combined with some woeful Tunisian defending put the game out of reach for the Eagles of Carthage after only 45 minutes as an Eden Hazard penalty and a Romelu Lukaku brace saw the Red Devils lead at the break by three goals to one

The second-half began in similar fashion to the first as Tunisia were punished for further defensive errors as Hazard also secured a World Cup brace after a superb solo goal saw no way back for the North African side. 

Michy Batshuayi could have scored four during his 30 minute period from the bench but despite his missed chances an injury-time goal rounded off a five-star performance from Belgium

Dylan Bronn header dragged Tunisia back into the game after 18 minutes, however, no Tunisian comeback ever really threatened Belgium as the game was one-sided from start to finish. The final goal of the game came from Tunisia captain and Sunderland player Wahbi  Khazri with virtually the final kick of the game, but it wasn't enough to spare Nabil Maâloul's side from humiliation who now sit on the brink of World Cup elimination

Belgium come flying out the blocks 

It took only five minutes for the Belgians to find their rhythm when some nice build-up play found Hazard on the edge of the area.  

The Chelsea man was slick beating S Ben Youssef with a little step-over and a quick burst of pace before the defender completely wiped Hazard out and referee Jair Marrufo showed no hesitation and immediately pointed to the spot.

The decision was reviewed by VAR after Tunisia protests felt that Hazard was fouled outside the area, the check was quick and the penalty stood. 

Hazard took the spot-kick and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way finding the left-hand corner to score his 23rd international goal for the Red Devils.

The Belgian no. 10 won the penalty and converted in ice-cool fashion to put Roberto Martinez' team in the driving seat after only six minutes.

Lukaku makes it two but Tunisia quickly strike back

Tunisia defensively were all of the place in the opening 15 minutes and Belgium punished the North African side to make them pay for their early errors.

A horror show at left-back for Maâloul saw a heavy touch quickly seized upon by Dries Mertens who drove at the Tunisian defence making 20 yards before coolly sliding in Lukaku. Belgium's all-time top-scorer was suddenly let loose for the first time this game and the Manchester United striker calmly fired home with his left foot into the bottom right corner to score his third goal of the tournament and put the Red Devils two goals to the good.

An early defensive collapse could have got the better of Tunisia, however, Maâloul's side showed a similar character that frustrated England to almost the final kick of the game as the Eagles of Carthage quickly clawed themselves back into this game.  

Tunisia won a free-kick almost immediately after kick-off, Khazri stepped up and the Sunderland man whipped a superb teasing delivery that left the Belgian defence exposed and in trouble.

The cross met the head of Bronn who got a nice flick on the ball to glance his header into the bottom corner to leave Thibaut Courtois no chance and drag the Eagles of Carthage back into this game.

Another Lukaku brace rounds off wonderful first-half for Red Devils 

Tunisia became desperate for the half to end as the Belgians were searching for that third goal that would quickly kill any hopes of a Tunisian fight-back.

Belgium gave Tunisia another warning that they were hunting for the third and a well-orchestrated counter-attack saw Hazard find Kevin De Bruyne who had Lukaku in acres of space.

The Premier League's highest assister for 2017/18 tried to find Lukaku at the back post, however, his pass was horribly misjudged as it flew past the striker to see another chance gone begging for Martinez' side.

That should have been the final scare before half-time for Tunisia, but further catastrophic defending allowed Belgium to punish Maâloul's side once again.

Thomas Meunier capitalised on yet another Maaloul mistake as his disastrous clearance fell to the Belgian wing-back who played a nice one-two with De Bruyne before finding Lukaku who emphatically lobbed Mustapha to put Belgium three-up and place him level with Ronaldo on four goals in the race for the golden boot. 

Tunisia only had themselves to blame in that first-half period as all three goals were definitely preventable and they looked a shadow of the side that was so organised and defensively sound against Southgate's Three Lions only five days ago.

Second half goals from Hazard and Batshuayi round-off Tunisian humiliation 

It was raining goals in the first half at the Otkritie Arena and the second-half quickly began almost identically to the first. A wonderful pass from Toby Alderweireld inside his own half picked out Hazard who controlled with his chest majestically to glide past Mustapha and slot home. Another Belgian with a brace.

Belgium were technically as fluent with the ball in the second period as they were in the first and a slight niggle to Lukaku could have spared the Tunisian defence from further embarrassment.

It was incredible that there was only the one goal in the second-half as the introduction of Batshuayi should have seen the Chelsea player walk away with the match ball. 

However, the 24-year-old striker in the space of ten minutes saw three golden opportunities wasted as the crossbar followed by some stunning misses from Batshuayi kept the scoreline from further Tunisian humiliation.

The Borussia Dortmund loanee finally got his goal in injury-time to round off a five-star performance from the Red Devils. 

It doesn't take a genius to say that if you gift Batshuayi four absolute sitters he will certainly take one and that's exactly what he did as his fourth attempt finally went in.

A lovely Youri Tielemans cross was begging to be put in by Batshuayi and on the fourth time of asking Belgium's second choice striker finally converted. 

There was a seventh goal in this truly bizarre fixture as Khazri got the final goal of the game, but it wasn't enough to restore Tunisian pride although defensive mishaps will give England belief that this Belgium side are very much beatable.