Russia 2018 Watch: Belgium cruise to victory against Tunisia
PUBLISHED: 17:28 23 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:51 25 June 2018
Belgium and Tunisia have met on three previous occasions in all competitions, with a win apiece and a draw. The encounters have been tight affairs, with victories decided by one-goal margins, but today’s match didn’t follow the same trend.
The first match in 1992 saw the Eagles of Carthage defeat the Belgians 2-1, in what was the first ever match for the Belgian Red Devils against an African side. The last match between the two sides saw Belgium triumph courtesy of a Dries Mertens strike in 2014.
Mertens was also on the scoresheet in Belgium’s opening match against Panama with a superb volley to open the scoring in a 3-0 victory – equalling Beligum’s most emphatic win since 1970 when they defeated El Salvador by the same scoreline.
The Tunisians had a different result in their Group opener, losing 2-1 to England, thanks to an injury-time winner from Harry Kane, in what was a poor excuse of a football match, and more of a WWE Wrestlemania tussle.
The only competitive World Cup fixture between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw, with former Belgian manager Marc Wilmots on the scoresheet.
The Tunisians are winless in their previous 12 World Cup finals matches since a 3-1 victory over Mexico in 1978, the first ever for an African nation in the tournament. Meanwhile, the Belgians are undefeated against African opponents in the tournament, including the draw with Tunisia in 2002, a 1-0 win against Morocco in 1994 and a 2-1 victory against Algeria in Brazil, four years ago.
The Tunisians lost their only previous World Cup match contested on the 23rd June, having been beaten 1-0 by Ukraine in 2006 and got off to a losing start in the match against Belgium, as Eden Hazard scored from the penalty-spot after just six minutes, following a foul from Syam Ben Youssef on the Chelsea winger.
The North-African side were dealt another blow ten minutes later, when Romelu Lukaku doubled the lead with a precise low finish. However, they were given hope a minute later when right-back Dylan Bronn headed home from a freekick to reduce the deficit, but the goal-scorer was forced-off on a stretcher with an injury, moments later.
Four minutes before the interval, the Eagles of Carthage (who displayed less of a fight this time round) were dealt another injury-blow when Ben Youssef, who conceded the penalty for Belgium’s opener, was stretchered-off like Bronn. To make matters worse, Lukaku scored his second of the match to make it three on the stroke of half-time.
Hazard then scored his second of the match, six minutes into the restart, to make it four in a match that flattered the Tunisians, given the poor finishing from substitute Michy Batshuayi, who had efforts cleared off the line, rattling the bar and denied by the heroics of Ben Moustapha in the Tunisia goal, before finding the net in the 90th minute. Wahbi Khazri then tapped-in with the final kick of the game to grab a consolation.