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Dublin: 17 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Hazard hones World Cup form as Belgium outclass Egypt

Roberto Martinez’s side’s array of star names turned in a dazzling first-half display in Brussels.

Eden Hazard, Belgium v Egypt. CREDIT: Twitter @BelRedDevils
Eden Hazard, Belgium v Egypt. CREDIT: Twitter @BelRedDevils

ROMELU LUKAKU AND Eden Hazard were on target as Belgium continued their World Cup preparations with a dominant 3-0 win over Egypt.

Manchester United striker Lukaku completed another 45 minutes on the back of Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Portugal after an ankle injury ruined the end of his domestic season, and he opened the scoring in Brussels despite a dreadful earlier miss.

Hazard, along with Kevin De Bruyne, was often at the heart of Belgium’s best work and came through some rough treatment from Hector Cuper’s side before capitalising on a defensive collapse seven minutes before half-time.

Roberto Martinez rung the changes at the break, with an inevitable impact upon his team’s earlier fluency, but they nevertheless remained in total control against an Egypt side badly missing the cutting edge of injured talisman Mohamed Salah.

One of the replacements, United midfielder Marouane Fellaini, added Belgium’s third in stoppage time.

Belgium face Costa Rica next Monday in their final warm-up for a World Cup group including Panama, Tunisia and England, while Egypt’s next fixture comes in Group A against Uruguay.

De Bruyne drilled across goal early on but a sliding Lukaku and Yannick Carrasco were unable to finish.

Ahmed Fathy was booked for scything through Carrasco in the seventh minute, following Tarek Hamed’s yellow card for a similarly robust challenge on Hazard.

A more constructive Egyptian contribution came when Mohamed Elneny saw a 20-yard piledriver blocked by Laurent Ciman but smart interplay from Hazard and De Bruyne soon had the hosts back on the front foot – veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary at full stretch to push Dries Mertens’ shot over the bar.

Mertens then turned provider with a delicious cross from the right flank, only for Lukaku to inexplicably half-volley wide from two yards.

Striker Marwan Mohsen headed Egypt’s best chance wide from Mohamed Shafy’s left-wing delivery before Lukaku made amends in the 27th minute, converting when El Hadary failed to push Hazard’s shot to safety.

Hazard crashed over before gaining the goal a sparkling showing deserved, although the Chelsea star’s dinked 12-yard finish only came after woeful defending from right-back Fathy.

The goalscorers made way amid a quartet of half-time changes for Belgium, while El Hadary was replaced by Mohamed El-Shenawy in the Egypt goal.

Paris Saint-Germain right-back Thomas Meunier fired just beyond the top-right corner in the 61st minute, with one of the replacements, Nacer Chadli, the provider.

El-Shenawy bundled unconvincingly to safety after Lukaku’s understudy Michy Batshuayi engineered space in the box, while De Bruyne shot too close to the Egypt goalkeeper from a 25-yard free-kick after a driving run was unceremoniously ended by Sam Morsy.

Batshuayi was wasteful once more when fellow sub Adnan Januzaj weaved through some challenges but the striker proved a more adept provider, driving at a flagging defence and cutting back for Fellaini to slam home and complete a night of numerous positives for Martinez.

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