Romelu Lukaku became Belgium’s all-time top scorer at major tournaments as the Red Devils cruised past an insipid Tunisia in Moscow.
The Manchester United and Chelsea stars Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both scored braces as Belgium crushed Tunisia 5-2 to all but secure their place in the World Cup knockout stages.
The Red Devils just need England to avoid defeat to Panama in Sunday’s other Group G game to confirm their last-16 spot and no team at Russia 2018 will want to be drawn against Roberto Martinez’s side after this swashbuckling display.
Belgium were dominant from the outset, taking a 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes through Hazard’s penalty and Lukaku’s fine finish.
Dylan Bronn then handed the African side an unlikely lifeline before Lukaku – who scored twice in the opening 3-0 win over Panama – restored Belgium’s lead to become his country’s all-time top scorer at major tournaments with seven goals.
Hazard netted his second early in the second half, while substitute Michy Batshuayi – who had earlier missed three golden opportunities – scored a fifth in the 90th minute. Wahbi Khazri bagged a late consolation for Tunisia, but it did little to take the shine off a memorable result for Belgium.
Should England overcome Panama then only top spot in the group will be at stake when Belgium face Gareth Southgate’s side on Thursday, while Tunisia will be eliminated should the result of Sunday’s game be anything other than an unlikely Panama win.
Belgium, who named the same starting XI that cruised past Panama in their opening game, got off to a great start after six minutes thanks to some clumsy defending from Syam Ben Youssef.
The full-back’s late challenge on Hazard was deemed, with the use of VAR, to have been just inside the area and the Chelsea man stepped up to crack the resulting spot-kick into the bottom-left corner.
Hazard failed to turn home Lukaku’s low cross from close-range soon after but the latter doubled the Red Devils’ advantage after 16 minutes.
Dries Mertens won possession just inside the Tunisia half before driving forward and feeding Lukaku. The Manchester United striker then arrowed a low strike across Farouk Ben Mustapha into the bottom-right corner for his third goal of the tournament.
Any thoughts that the rampant Belgians would accelerate out of sight were dispelled – at least briefly – just two minutes later, though.
Khazri’s inswinging free-kick from the left was met by Bronn, who flashed a header past Thibaut Courtois entirely against the run of play.
That goal served to halt Belgium’s early dominance, but they did grab a third with almost the last kick of the half.
The impressive Thomas Meunier found Lukaku inside the area and the in-form striker clipped a delightful finish over the onrushing Mustapha.