Monday 23 July 2018

Martinez set to rest stars

Belgium 5 Tunisia 2

Belgium's Michy Batshuayi celebrates scoring his side's fifth goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Belgium's Michy Batshuayi celebrates scoring his side's fifth goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez praised Romelu Lukaku for his "clinical" finishing in the thrashing of Tunisia but then dropped a big hint that he would be rested for the Group G decider against England.

The Manchester United striker scored twice before limping off in the 59th minute, with Eden Hazard also getting a brace and Michy Batshuayi claiming the fifth. Dylan Bronn gave Tunisia brief hope with a first-half header but Wahbi Khazri's stoppage-time strike was only a consolation.

England needed a goal in added time to beat Tunisia in their opening game but the Red Devils had no such worries, tearing into the North African side from the start and creating chances at will. They had 23 shots, 12 on target, and Batshuayi should have scored a hat-trick after coming on for Hazard with 20 minutes to play.

Speaking after the game, Martinez explained that Lukaku injured an ankle, while Hazard strained his calf and Dries Mertens also hurt his ankle. Asked if this meant there would be changes for the game against England on Thursday, Martinez said: "If we had seven days to prepare it would be the same starting XI. In international football, the reality now is we have qualified. There will be opportunities to give minutes to other players. There will be major changes against England."

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez gestures during yesterday's match. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez gestures during yesterday's match. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Lukaku's first-half brace means he is tied with Ronaldo as the tournament's top scorer on four goals and he has now reached 40 goals for Belgium.

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