Tunisia, the highest-ranked African nation in the World Cup, suffered several significant injury blows which ruled out many of their key stars from fulfilling their World Cup dream. The curse did not end even after entering the main event as several casualties hindered them from playing their best football. The Eagles of Carthage had a must-win encounter against mighty Belgium but the limitations restricted them from playing the best football as they went down fighting following a heartbreaking 5-2 defeat to one of the title favorites.
Belgium had a perfect start when skipper Eden Hazard earned a spot-kick in early minutes and made no mistake to slot it home. The goal opened the game up from the very beginning and allowed space for hitman Romelu Lukaku to cause menace inside the box. The Manchester United striker doubled the lead ten minutes later from Dries Martens’ pass but the Tunisians pulled one back within seconds when defender Dylan Bronn headed home from skipper Wahbi Khazri’s free-kick. The goalscorer, however, was forced to leave the pitch minutes later with an injury and the depleted backline surrendered finally when Lukaku found the net again in the final seconds of an enthralling first-half football.
The Red Devils started the second half with more aggression which saw them making it 4-1 when Hazard notched his second after picking up Toby Alderweireld’s long ball. Michy Batshuayi, who came on in place of Hazard, could have had a hat-trick but was denied off the line, by the woodwork and also forced Ben Mustapha to make a stunning stop in closing minutes. The Eagles were bound to suffer a defeat and conceded another late in the game when Batshuayi finally grabbed his goal but the minnows played for their pride until the final whistle and struck a consolation when excellent Khazri decreased the deficit in final moments.
Belgium, therefore, have progressed through to the knockouts and their final group game versus England is likely to decide the Group G winners.
Belgium vs Tunisia Lineups:
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Meunier, Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, Dries Martens (Youri Tielemans 86′), Eden Hazard (Michy Batshuayi 68′), Romelu Lukaku (Marouane Fellaini 59′).
Tunisia: Farouk Ben Mustapha, Dylan Bronn (Hamdi Nagguez 24′), Syam Ben Youssef (Yohan Benalouane 41′), Yassine Meriah, Ali Maaloui, Ellyes Skhiri, Anice Badri, Ferjani Sassi (Naim Sliti 59′), Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, Wahbi Khazri.
Belgium vs Tunisia Highlights:
Belgium vs Tunisia Match Stats:
|Shots (on Target)||22(12)||12(4)|