Patience paid dividends in Belgium’s 2018 FIFA World Cup opener.
Belgium beat Panama 3-0 on Monday in Russia in their 2018 World Cup Group G opener. Dries Mertens put Belgium in front with a stunning volley just after halftime, and Romelu Lukaku added two goals to confirm the emphatic victory. The Red Devils now assume first place in Group G, with England and Tunisia set to play later Monday.
Despite conceding possession and territorial advantages over the first 45 minutes, Panama frustrated Belgium’s high-powered attack, admirably nullifying Lukaku’s threat and keeping its heavily favored opponent off the scoreboard.
But Mertens breached Panama’s defense just two minutes into the second half with this stunning volley.
The Red Devils smelled blood following Mertens’ magic and immediately began hunting for a second goal. After 19 minutes of trying, Lukaku headed home Kevin de Bruyne’s excellent pass to double Belgium’s lead.
Lukaku doubled his personal tally and cemented Belgium’s win in the 75th minute on this fine finish.
Belgium closed out the game with minimal fuss. The margin of victory reflects Belgium’s dominance of the run of play against Panama.
Man of the Match: Romelu Lukaku
The Belgium forward did his job by scoring goals with aplomb. The 25-year-old already is among his country’s greatest-ever goal scorers on the biggest stages.
Next up: On Saturday, Belgium will play Tunisia at 8 a.m. ET, and Panama will face England at 11 a.m. in their second Group G game.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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