Sunday 11 December 2016

Rampant Belgium send a message

Hungary 0 Belgium 4

Published 27/06/2016 | 02:30

Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates scoring his side's 3rd goal. Photo: Francois Mori/AP Photo
Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates scoring his side's 3rd goal. Photo: Francois Mori/AP Photo

Eden Hazard provided the inspiration as Belgium produced their best performance of Euro 2016 to power into the quarter-finals.

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Toby Alderweireld set up victory with an early header before the brilliant Hazard teed up substitute Michy Batshuayi for the second after 78 minutes and then scored a superb solo goal himself. Yannick Carrasco wrapped up victory in Toulouse in injury-time.

Belgium's Yannick Carrasco scores their fourth goal. Photo: Michael Dalder/Reuters
Belgium's Yannick Carrasco scores their fourth goal. Photo: Michael Dalder/Reuters

After some disjointed performances earlier in the tournament, this was a display that marked out Belgium as serious contenders.

Hungary did trouble them in spells, but they were generally outclassed.

Belgium went straight onto the offensive with Kevin de Bruyne, revelling in a central role behind Romelu Lukaku, shooting wide.

De Bruyne linked superbly with Lukaku throughout and the Everton striker twice went close early on after being played in by the Manchester City man.

Belgium's Axel Witsel in action with Hungary's Akos Elek. Photo: Vincent Kessler/Reuters
Belgium's Axel Witsel in action with Hungary's Akos Elek. Photo: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

De Bruyne was the key figure in the opener, swinging in a curling free-kick for Alderweireld to head powerfully past Gabor Kiraly.

De Bruyne headed at Kiraly from a Lukaku cross and then forced a brilliant save from Kiraly from a free-kick.

Belgium were almost caught out when Gergo Lovrenesics thundered a fierce drive just over but normal service seemed to be resumed when Hazard tested Kiraly after a powerful run straight after the break.

But Hungary fought back and worried Belgium for a spell.

Adam Szalai shot over and Courtois needed to back-pedal to push over a deflected effort from Adam Pinter. Roland Juhasz then twice went close.

But Belgium doubled their lead when Hazard lost his man on the left with a superb change of pace and his low ball into the box presented Batshuayi with an unmissable chance.

Hazard went even better two minutes later, easing past defenders as he cut in from the left and then curled a low shot inside the far post from 18 yards.

Hungary might have had a consolation in the last minute but Thibaut Courtois saved from Akos Elek and Belgium broke upfield to score again with Carrasco racing on to a Radja Nainggolan pass to tuck home the fourth.

Irish Independent

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