Tunisia, last Arab team in World Cup, defeated by Belgium 5-2

For the hundreds of Tunisians who made the trip to Russia, the crushing defeat was a major disappointment.
Saturday 23/06/2018
Belgium's Eden Hazard, right, and Tunisia's Ferjani Sassi challenge for the ball during the group G match between Belgium and Tunisia. (AP)
Belgium's Eden Hazard, right, and Tunisia's Ferjani Sassi challenge for the ball during the group G match between Belgium and Tunisia. (AP)

Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard scored two goals each in a dominant Belgium display on Saturday, leading their team over Tunisia 5-2 in the highest-scoring game of the World Cup.

Belgium's victory eliminates Tunisia from the tournament. Three other Arab teams -- Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- have already been eliminated.

The Red Devils were rampant at times and rested both forwards in the second half for tougher tests ahead. A spot in the round of 16 is almost certain after an opening 3-0 win over Panama.

Belgium had a two-goal lead within 16 minutes. Hazard scored with a sixth-minute penalty kick he earned by being tripped, and Lukaku angled a low, left-foot shot into the corner of the opposing goal.

The Tunisians cut the lead when defender Dylan Bronn headed in a goal in the 18th minute, but Belgium wasn't done.  French-born Bronn had to leave the game minutes later after sustaining an injury.

Lukaku clipped a right-foot shot over advancing goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha to match Cristiano Ronaldo with four goals as the tournament's top scorers. Hazard then ran on to a long pass in the 51st, flicked the ball around Ben Mustapha and shot into an empty net. Substitute Michy Batshuayi made it a rout in stoppage time, and failed with three other good scoring chances.

Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri scored his team's second goal with what was almost the last kick of the match.

Belgium has shown the most complete attacking force at the World Cup, though without yet playing a European or South American team.

Against England next Thursday, Belgium will be favoured to advance as the winner of Group H.

For the hundreds of Tunisians who made the trip to Russia and the many more who watched the game at home, the crushing defeat was a major disappointment. Most Tunisians expected a better performance by their team. Social media were rife with criticism of the squad's Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul.

(The Arab Weekly staff and news agencies)