Eden Hazard says Belgium want to go all the way to the World Cup final after the Red Devils threw down a marker to group rivals England with a 5-2 thrashing of Tunisia on Saturday.
Having lost to Argentina in the quarter-finals at the last World Cup, Hazard says Belgium are a better team than four years ago and are targeting the final in Russia.
“We are a good team, we want to reach the final and we are stronger than four years ago,” said the Chelsea star and Belgium captain who capped a man-of-the-match performance with two goals against Tunisia on Saturday.
“The match was easy because we scored after five minutes and knew Tunisia would leave spaces as they needed to win, making it easier for us.”
Belgium ran riot to top Group G as Romelu Lukaku scored twice to draw level with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the World Cup goalscoring charts with four goals two a double strike.
Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to grab Belgium’s fifth.
The win puts the Red Devils on the brink of the last 16 and they face Tunisia’s consolation goals came from defender Dylan Bronn and captain Wahbi Khazri.
However, victory came at a cost before Belgium’s final group game against England next Thursday as Lukaku is rated doubtful with an ankle injury, but Hazard should recover from a calf knock.
– Lethal Lukaku –
Manchester United’s Lukaku, who also scored twice in the opening 3-0 win against Panama, showed clinical finishing for his first-half goals.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez criticised his side for starting slowly against Panama, but they flew out of the blocks in Moscow.
Hazard, having been on the receiving end of some bruising tackles in Belgium’s opener, was sent tumbling after just five minutes but converted the penalty to open his Russian account.
Midfielder Ferjani Sassi picked up an early booking for complaining when Tunisia’s appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears, just before Belgium added their second goal.
Ali Maaloul’s weak pass on the halfway line was collected by Dries Mertens, who sprinted away and put Lukaku clear.
The striker coolly placed his shot past Tunisia keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha in the 16th minute.
Tunisia responded two minutes later, Bronn leaping highest to head home a free-kick on 18 minutes, only to be later carried off after landing awkwardly.
With half-time approaching, the Belgians grabbed their third goal.
After earlier squandering two clear chances created by Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku converted his third opportunity just before half-time.
Thomas Meunier put him in behind the defence and Lukaku tucked his shot away.
The Manchester City midfield maestro turned provider again after the break for Hazard.
The Chelsea star sprinted onto De Bruyne’s lofted pass, held off two defenders, rounded keeper Ben Mustapha and tapped home Belgium’s fourth goal in the 51st minute.
Knocks forced both Lukaku, then Hazard off in the second-half and for the final 22 minutes Batshuayi came on and had five clear chances before finally converting a cross for Belgium’s fifth goal.
Tunisia captain Khazri grabbed their second goal just before the final whistle of their second defeat in Russia.