Why rising star Bailey won’t play for England

first_imgEngland Why Leon Bailey won’t be England’s surprise star at the World Cup Ronan Murphy Last updated 1 year ago 18:18 22/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Leon Bailey Bayer Leverkusen Getty Images England Bayer Leverkusen World Cup Bundesliga Opinion The Bayer Leverkusen winger was born in Jamaica, but has been linked with the Three Lions having never played senior football for his home country If rumours are to be believed, Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey may be lining out on British soil in the coming months.Not only has the 20-year-old been linked with a summer switch to the Premier League, amid talk of interest from Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, there has also been mounting speculation that Bailey could actually play for England before the World Cup?The former Belgian Young Professional Footballer of the Year has yet to play a senior game for his native country of Jamaica and is reportedly at the centre of an international tug-of-war, with Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate said to be monitoring his progress with Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Bailey has been one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 campaign, having played just eight league games in his first season in Germany after arriving from Genk for €20 million in January 2017.This term, he has become an integral part of Heiko Herrlich’s 3-4-3 approach, lining up at left-wing-back and further up the field as a left-midfielder or left winger.Bailey’s tremendous form saw him score the opener in the 2-1 away victory at Hamburg on Saturday, taking him to nine goals and five assists in 20 games, as Leverkusen moved into the top four.He has been one of the best performers in Germany in 2017-18, with his club and international future now both the subject of much attention as he decides how best to progress his career.After Bailey netted his seventh Bundesliga goal of the season in the 4-1 win over Hoffenheim in January, Herrlich gushed over the youngster, telling reporters “Leon Bailey can do anything at the moment.”Is one of those things playing for England?Is Leon Bailey eligible for England?Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Bailey has featured for the country’s Under-23 side, playing just once in a friendly against Cayman Islands where he scored a free-kick.Despite repeated calls from former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Winfried Schafer to call him up to the Jamaica national team, Bailey rejected the advances during the German’s tenure as manager between 2013 and 2016.”I really wanted to make him a national player,” Schafer told Bild in January. “I invited him several times, including to the Gold Cup in America and to international matches. I also tried to call him up when he was at Genk. But his step-father blocked everything.”Bailey’s adopted father, Craig Butler, also serves as his agent, and admits that, although they both love their home country, they are unhappy with the way football is run in Jamaica. Butler insists that he only wants what is best for Bailey and his other footballing son, Malta-based midfielder Kyle Butler.”I am a Jamaican and Leon is born a Jamaican,” said Craig Butler. “We love our country. We want what’s best for the country, as long as it doesn’t affect Leon or Kyle or their careers.”The main issue is and always will be whether we have a proper football culture to allow players to work in a uniform and systematic way.”Kyle Butler has been tipped as a possible candidate for a spot in the Jamaican squad, but has been overlooked because he is not a professional. This is similar to the way Bailey was treated before his move to Europe.”They always want me to play for Jamaica, but I’ve had personal problems with the association since I was 11 or 12 years old,” Bailey told Kicker.The problems between Bailey, his agent and the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) have meant that his international future appears to be unclear.Leon Bailey Bayer LeverkusenCraig Butler claims that the FA has contacted him about the possibility of both Bailey and Kyle Butler switching to England, telling RJR News that “the English FA has reached out to us; spoken to them by phone; the offer is for both players and with things that come along with playing for England: endorsement contracts, salaries and things like that we’ve been discussing and we will further discuss later this week when we meet. It is something that you cannot not consider; you have to look at the options.”According to some commentators in Jamaica, it seems that Butler may be using the England rumours as a way to increase his standing with the JFF, where he is eager to be involved in the governing of the country’s football set-up. “The reality, for me, is that Jamaica has the chance to get the players and to establish a national football culture and if they allow us to help with that then we would prefer to play for Jamaica,” he continued.Thanks to FIFA eligibility rules, Bailey would be free to switch allegiance to another country he is eligible for as he has not played a competitive game at senior international level. The winger has grandparents who hold British passports, but in order for him to be eligible for England, they would have had to be born in England.Reports in Jamaica indicate that, while Bailey’s grandparents are English, they were not born in England, and thus he would not fulfil the residency requirements to play for the Three Lions.Butler’s sister Laura claimed that his adopted background made him eligible, telling the Gleaner: “Our grandparent, Frank Lesley Holman, fought in World War II for the British Air Force, so he qualifies by that standard.”However, despite the British military background, the FIFA statutes indicate that the parental rules apply only to the biological ancestry of the player. Bailey would only be connected to Holman via adoption rather than biology, and only as a great-grandchild rather than having a grandparent-grandchild link, so would not make him eligible for England as a result.Butler seemed to raise the stakes further on Wednesday, telling The Sun that they had “given Jamaica 10 days to come up with a solution or we will make alternative choices.“England have made contact with us in the last few weeks and there will be more discussions in the future. England is not the only option – we have Malta and Belgium.However, this seems to be more posturing from the agent as he seeks a foothold in the JFF. Bailey did not reside in Belgium long enough to gain citizenship during his time at Genk, while he has no ties to Malta.“If you end up with 17 Jamaicans playing for different nations all from my Phoenix All Stars academy,” Butler continued, “then what will that do the future of Jamaican football? It should force them to change how they view people instead of making it about personalities not football ability.”Butler’s latest claims seem to be little more than an ultimatum to the people who run football in Jamaica, with Bailey essentially tied to the country despite this new arbitrary 10-day deadline. The only way the winger can play for any of the other three countries Butler mentions is to unearth a biological parent or grandparent who was born in that territory.Bailey’s club future is up for grabs, but it looks as if the only way he will likely line out at Wembley is for a visiting team.last_img read more

Report: Burnley 1 Southampton 1

first_imgBurnley 1 Southampton 1: Gabbiadini grabs late leveller Stephen Creek Last updated 1 year ago 01:02 25/2/2018 Sean Dyche - cropped Getty Images Burnley missed out on their first Premier League win since December 12 as Manolo Gabbiadini struck late on for Southampton. Manolo Gabbiadini scored his first Premier League goal of 2018 to earn Southampton a 1-1 draw against Burnley that lifts them out of the relegation zone.The Italian struck in the 90th minute of the game to deny Burnley a result that would have ended a run of 10 league games without a win for Sean Dyche’s men.After Leicester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke City earlier in the day, Burnley went into the game knowing a win would move them three points clear of Claude Puel’s Foxes but they struggled to break down a resurgent Southampton side for over an hour. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Mauricio Pellegrino’s Saints arrived at Turf Moor having lost just one of their previous five Premier League games and they looked determined to eke out a result, but the lack of a cutting edge in the final third looked set to let them down, as it has done so many times this season.Burnley struck first in the 67th minute when Aaron Lennon, who provided the home side with a threat down both wings throughout the afternoon, whipped the ball into the box, where Ashley Barnes applied the final touch to take it over the line with his head.But Gabbiadini latched onto Guido Carrillo’s pass in the Burnley area and applied a clinical finish to leave the home crowd disappointed at the final whistle.FULL TIME: #BFC 1-1 #SaintsFCLate drama sees the visitors take a point at Turf Moor thanks to @Mgabbia23’s strike. pic.twitter.com/cTDNjmBxli— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 24, 2018Burnley’s former England winger Lennon showed good technique as he volleyed the first shot of the game from the edge of the Southampton box into the arms of goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.The visitors responded with a sweeping attacking move, Nathan Redmond darting to the edge of the Burnley penalty area before threading a pass to Dusan Tadic, whose shot with the outside of his left foot was blocked by the legs of Clarets defender Ben Mee.Burnley should have taken the lead when Matthew Lowton’s marauding run reached the by-line and he crossed to Barnes, who cut the ball back to Lennon, but the diminutive playmaker saw his shot blocked after 28 minutes.After a spell of Southampton pressure early in the second half, James Ward-Prowse tried a raking, low corner to the edge of the penalty area, where Redmond arrived to meet it but his shot failed to penetrate a crowd of Burnley defenders.Jeff Hendrick raced clear of the Southampton defence just before the hour mark but McCarthy made himself big and pulled off a brave block at the Republic of Ireland international’s feet before the loose ball was sent over the crossbar by Ashley Westwood.The momentum was with Dyche’s men and Barnes should have made it count when Westwood’s looping cross picked him out in the box but his header lacked power and accuracy, trickling wide of to the right of the goal.He was given another chance moments later when Lennon’s cross was met by the boot of Johann Berg Gudmundsson and, after McCarthy’s parry found the head of Hendrick, Barnes bundled the ball over the line from point blank range.PIC: Ashley Barnes scrambles the Clarets ahead. Can they hold on? pic.twitter.com/lxLKXM6fXc— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) February 24, 2018Burnley’s claims for a penalty were waved away when McCarthy appeared to handle the ball outside the area moments later and the let-off allowed Southampton to chase an equaliser in the closing stages.Substitute Josh Sims carved out space for himself 20 yards from goal and his curling right-footed shot looked destined for the top right corner of the net before Nick Pope palmed it onto the post.But there was still time for more and Sims’ cross found Carrillo, whose pass across the Burnley area was pounced upon by Gabbiadini and he took a touch before slamming the ball home from eight yards to ensure the points were shared. Key Opta stats:- Burnley are winless in their last 11 Premier League games (D6 L5), their longest such run in the competition since January 2010 (12 games).- Southampton have not lost any of the last nine Premier League games in which they have started the day in the relegation zone (W4 D5), since a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool in December 2012.- Saints have won just once in their last 15 Premier League matches (D8 L6).- Manolo Gabbiadini netted his first Premier League goal in 15 appearances and first since bagging a brace against Newcastle in October 2017.- Ashley Barnes netted his fourth Premier League goal of the season, no Burnley player has scored more this term (level with Chris Wood).- The Clarets have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last five home PL games, this after keeping four shutouts in the five games before this run. read morelast_img read more

Zidane credits players for ‘perfect’ win over PSG

first_imgReal Madrid Zidane credits Real Madrid players for ‘perfect’ win over PSG Joe Wright 07:27 7/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) casemiro - cropped Getty Images Real Madrid PSG v Real Madrid PSG UEFA Champions League Zinédine Zidane The manager got his tactics spot on against Paris Saint-Germain, but insists that his players deserve the credit Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane praised his players for a “perfect” performance in Tuesday’s Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain.Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro, either side of Edinson Cavani’s strike, gave Madrid a 2-1 win at Parc des Princes and a 5-2 aggregate triumph in the last-16 encounter.With Luka Modric and Toni Kroos short of full fitness, Zidane opted to play Mateo Kovacic alongside Casemiro in midfield, with Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio out wide, and all four delivered impressive displays as PSG suffered their first home defeat in all competitions since March 2016. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Captain Sergio Ramos hailed Zidane’s approach after the match but the head coach insisted the credit belonged to the players.”The plan went well. We played a serious game from the beginning, played high, pressing. We had a perfect match,” he said.”I’m here to put in and take off players, and prepare the game well. Tactically, we played the game as expected. In the end, it’s the players who win games. That’s the key. We believe in what we do.”Unai Emery’s PSG, without the injured Neymar, rarely looked likely to mount a comeback in the tie and managed just three shots on target in the match.They also saw Marco Verratti sent off shortly before Cavani’s goal, the midfielder given a second yellow card for dissent after he was not awarded a free-kick.Zidane felt that decision helped his side but insisted PSG had played well across the two matches.”I don’t think it was that much,” he said when asked about the difference between the teams. “They did very well at the [Santiago] Bernabeu. They didn’t do so well at home, but that’s also because we did very well. Maybe the red card changed things.”1 – Casemiro in this game against PSG:1 goal1 shot56 passes completed (57)4 tackles won (5)11 recoveriesAstonishing. pic.twitter.com/ij18RMMDh5— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 6, 2018Madrid, chasing a third Champions League trophy in three years, have saved their best performances for Europe this season, with their inconsistent domestic form having seen them fall 15 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona and exit the Copa del Rey to Leganes.”It’s true we’ve had some difficult moments in the league and the cup. It’s part of football,” Zidane added.”It’s difficult to maintain that level all the time. You have to accept the tough moments and keep working. You can’t always win everything.”last_img read more

Vidic reveals why Jones & Smalling are struggling

first_imgManchester United Vidic reveals reason behind Smalling & Jones struggles at Manchester United Harry Sherlock 20:16 9/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Phil Jones Chris Smalling Manchester United Getty Images Manchester United Premier League The Serbian believes that the two current Man Utd defenders’ development was halted by not having experienced mentors alongside them Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand’s injury problems held back the development of current Manchester United defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, according to the Serbian defender.Ferdinand and Vidic forged a fearsome partnership at Old Trafford between 2006 and 2014, winning five Premier League titles, three League Cups, the Champions League and the Club World Cup.Smalling and Jones were signed by Sir Alex Ferguson as long-term successors to the exceptional duo, at the ages of 20 and 19 respectively. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp However, Ferdinand and Vidic struggled for game time in Ferguson’s twilight years, with the Englishman dealing with back issues and Vidic suffering a serious cruciate ligament injury in 2011.Jones and Smalling were thus left without a mentor alongside them at Old Trafford, and Vidic – the last United captain to win the Premier League – has expressed regret at his inability to guide their development.”It didn’t help them [Smalling and Jones] because they didn’t have a more experienced player to pick their brain when they played,” Vidic said, per ESPN. “It’s not just about playing together with an experienced player.”If Phil Jones is 24 and playing alongside someone who is 34, the player who is 34 years old is using his brain more than the 24-year-old.”To rise, he needs to be encouraged a bit and made to feel comfortable in his shoes.”If you lose that belief and think: ‘Should I be here, or here, or be here, then it’s difficult to play.”So that didn’t help them. Even if they do something bad, you say: ‘OK, he’s 24 but where was I to help him?”Vidic moved to Inter in 2014, before eventually retiring in 2016, while Ferdinand spent a season at QPR prior to his retirement in 2015. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

Mbappe backs under-fire Emery

first_imgPSG When fans whistle Emery, they whistle PSG – Mbappe backs embattled coach Guy Atkinson 06:18 11/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(2) Kylian Mbappe AFP PSG Ligue 1 Kylian Mbappé PSG v Metz Metz The coach was given a rough ride by the Parc des Princes faithful on Saturday, but he has the support of the PSG dressing room Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has warned supporters that whistling Unai Emery is the same as whistling the whole team.The PSG boss has come under fire after the French giants’ limp Champions League surrender to Real Madrid in midweek.He oversaw a resounding 5-0 win over Metz on Saturday to restore their lead at the Ligue 1 summit to 14 points, but the result has done little to dampen unrest amongst the club’s supporters, who believe that the Spaniard is not the man to guide them to European success. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Mbappe, who scored in PSG’s Saturday stroll against the league’s bottom side, has come out in support of Emery and reminded fans that when they lose, the players are just as responsible as the manager.  Speaking after the game, Mbappe told L’Equipe: “They are not happy, but the coach is not the only one responsible.”If they choose to whistle the coach, they must whistle us all because we lost together.FULL TIME: PSG turn on the style in a 5-0 win over Metz! #PSGFCM #AllezParis  pic.twitter.com/GQZzxv3a6R— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) March 10, 2018″It’s not Unai Emery who lost, it’s PSG so it’s up to all of us to be whistled. We are the ones on the pitch.”When asked if he would like Emery to remain beyond the end of this season, Mbappe added: “It’s not me who decides, I’m not in charge, but it’s true that I get along very well with the coach – he’s a very good coach.”The 19-year-old admits that the days since their humbling at the hands of Madrid have been difficult, but stressed the importance of swiftly turning their attention to claiming a domestic treble.He said: “It was important to get back on track because there are still three competitions, and you have to start with three out of three before the World Cup.”It is true that afterwards has been difficult but we are professionals, we must turn the page, and immediately move on. We will give everything for the three titles that remain.”last_img read more

Videos: Chuba Hubbard, Cowboys Preview TCU

first_imgSTILLWATER — The Cowboys practiced in gross weather conditions Tuesday with it being about 30 degrees with rain falling off and on.Members of the Oklahoma State football team met with the media after their chilly Tuesday practice. Here is what they had to say. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

Ex-Spurs owner Sugar causes outrage with ‘racist’ Senegal photo

first_imgWorld Cup Former Tottenham owner Lord Sugar causes outrage with ‘racist’ Senegal beach photo Ronan Murphy Last updated 1 year ago 18:19 6/20/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Alan Sugar Senegal GFX Getty Images World Cup Senegal Poland v Senegal Poland Tottenham Hotspur Premier League African All Stars The ex-Spurs chairman has been criticised for ‘a shocking, vile tweet’ which he claimed was simply a joke after being asked to delete it from Twitter Former Tottenham owner Lord Alan Sugar has caused online controversy with an offensive tweet after Senegal’s 2-1 win over Poland.The west African side won their first game at the 2018 World Cup, having returned to the tournament for the first time since 2002. An own goal and a second-half strike from M’Baye Niang gave Senegal all three points to go joint-top of Group H with Japan.Football fans around the world celebrated Senegal’s surprise win, but Sugar’s attempted joke about the victory backfired spectacularly with the ex-Spurs chief being accused of racism for his ill-advised comment and photo. Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Business magnate Sugar, who was chairman of Spurs from 1991 to 2001, posted an edited photo of the Senegal starting XI along with images of sunglasses and handbags, together with the caption “I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps.”Alan Sugar Senegal TweetThe comment sparked outrage on Twitter, with many people demanding for the photo to be deleted and others calling Sugar ‘racist’, including actress and fitness guru Kelechi Okafor, who claimed “He’s one of those wilfully ignorant people who thinks he can’t be racist because he grew up poor. The tweet is overtly racist but he has said with his chest that he has nothing to apologise for.”After refusing to apologise, writing “I cant see what I have to apologise for …. you are OTT … its a bloody joke,” Sugar eventually removed the original tweet, insisting that it had been a joke that people misunderstood: “Just been reading the reaction to my funny tweet about the guy on the beach in Marbella . Seems it has been interpreted in the wrong way as offensive by a few people . Frankly I cant see that I think it’s funny. But I will pull it down if you insist.”He also became involved in a war of words with BBC journalist Babita Sharma, who posted a screenshot of the original tweet, calling it “A shocking, vile tweet that you take a screen grab of because you know it will soon be deleted.”Sugar responded by claiming Sharma ‘makes him sick’, firing back a reply asking “if it so vile why have you retweeted it. You make me sick.”I misjudged me earlier tweet. It was in no way intended to cause offence, and clearly my attempt at humour has backfired. I have deleted the tweet and am very sorry.— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) June 20, 2018He also later deleted all of his responses, claiming that his initial comment was an “attempt at humour that backfired.” He also gave a brief interview to the Mirror, repeating the claims and defending himself against accusations of racism.”It was meant as a joke. Someone sent me the picture and I tweeted,” Sugar told the Mirror.”People know I have fought against racism for years and I sincerely didn’t think this could be interpreted in any other way other than funny.”However, due to the comments on Twitter I pulled it down.”last_img read more

Loftus-Cheek considers Chelsea exit

first_imgChelsea Loftus-Cheek to consider Chelsea future with summer transfer possible Tommy Doleman 14:31 6/21/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) rubenloftuscheek-cropped Getty Images Chelsea Premier League England v Panama Panama England World Cup The 22-year-old midfielder will be weighing up his options if he is not given assurances over first-team football at Stamford Bridge next season Ruben Loftus-Cheek will consider leaving Chelsea if he is not given assurances about regular first-team football.The 22-year-old looks set to replace the injured Dele Alli in England’s Group G fixture with Panama on Sunday, having impressed in a cameo appearance against Tunisia.Loftus-Cheek, a product of Chelsea’s academy, has found opportunities hard to come by at Stamford Bridge, but played 26 times on loan at Crystal Palace in 2017-18 as the club steered clear of a relegation battle. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar The England midfielder still has three years left on his contract with the west London club, but acknowledges he needs to be playing regularly so his career does not stagnate.”That’s the key for me next season regarding where I end up. I want to play. I want to play as much as I can,” he said.”Even this past season I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to because of the injuries. So I still feel I need a proper season of playing.”I do understand Chelsea is a big club and there is always pressure on managers to win games and trophies.”We’ll see what happens. I’m confident in my ability and that I can do well, wherever it is.”Loftus-Cheek’s future at the club may be determined by the club’s next manager with Chelsea yet to confirm reports Maurizio Sarri is set to take over from Antonio Conte.last_img read more

Report: Belgium 5 Tunisia 2

first_imgBelgium 5 Tunisia 2: Lukaku and Hazard shine as Red Devils run riot Guy Atkinson Last updated 1 year ago 22:05 6/23/18 Romelu Lukaku - cropped Getty Images Romelu Lukaku became Belgium’s all-time top scorer at major tournaments as the Red Devils cruised past an insipid Tunisia in Moscow. Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both scored braces as Belgium crushed Tunisia 5-2 to all but secure their place in the World Cup knockout stages.The Red Devils just need England to avoid defeat to Panama in Sunday’s other Group G game to confirm their last-16 spot and no team at Russia 2018 will want to be drawn against Roberto Martinez’s side after this swashbuckling display.Belgium were dominant from the outset, taking a 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes through Hazard’s penalty and Lukaku’s fine finish. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Dylan Bronn then handed the African side an unlikely lifeline before Lukaku – who scored twice in the opening 3-0 win over Panama – restored Belgium’s lead to become his country’s all-time top scorer at major tournaments with seven goals.Hazard netted his second early in the second half, while substitute Michy Batshuayi – who had earlier missed three golden opportunities – scored a fifth in the 90th minute. Wahbi Khazri bagged a late consolation for Tunisia, but it did little to take the shine off a memorable result for Belgium.Not only has there been a goal in every #WorldCup match, but #BELTUN had the most goals in a single match so far!#BEL   #TUN pic.twitter.com/y3ptKp7pQl— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 23, 2018Should England overcome Panama then only top spot in the group will be at stake when Belgium face Gareth Southgate’s side on Thursday, while Tunisia will be eliminated should the result of Sunday’s game be anything other than an unlikely Panama win.Belgium, who named the same starting XI that cruised past Panama in their opening game, got off to a great start after six minutes thanks to some clumsy defending from Syam Ben Youssef.The full-back’s late challenge on Hazard was deemed, with the use of VAR, to have been just inside the area and the Chelsea man stepped up to crack the resulting spot-kick into the bottom-left corner.Hazard failed to turn home Lukaku’s low cross from close-range soon after but the latter doubled the Red Devils’ advantage after 16 minutes.Dries Mertens won possession just inside the Tunisia half before driving forward and feeding Lukaku. The Manchester United striker then arrowed a low strike across Farouk Ben Mustapha into the bottom-right corner for his third goal of the tournament.Any thoughts that the rampant Belgians would accelerate out of sight were dispelled – at least briefly – just two minutes later, though.Khazri’s inswinging free-kick from the left was met by Bronn, who flashed a header past Thibaut Courtois entirely against the run of play.That goal served to halt Belgium’s early dominance, but they did grab a third with almost the last kick of the half. The impressive Thomas Meunier found Lukaku inside the area and the in-form striker clipped a delightful finish over the onrushing Mustapha. @RomeluLukaku9’s 2-0 was his third on this @FIFAWorldCup. He has now 39 goals in 71 games for #BEL ! #REDTOGETHER #WorldCup #BELTUN pic.twitter.com/VAhEN2NFLW— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) June 23, 2018Any faint hopes that Tunisia had of clawing their way back into the game were extinguished six minutes into the second half when Hazard scored his second.Toby Alderweireld’s long pass from defence was taken on the chest by Hazard, who then rounded Mustapha to stroke into an empty net.With the game essentially wrapped up, Martinez opted to bring Lukaku off before the hour, the striker having picked up a knock on his foot earlier in the game.Yannick Carrasco came close to adding a fifth goal when his whipped effort from outside the area fizzed agonisingly past the post, while Batshuayi saw an effort cleared off the line by Yassine Meriah after he had rounded the goalkeeper.Batshuayi looked like he would endure a miserable afternoon after two more missed opportunities – one crashing back off the crossbar from close-range – but the Chelsea man finally scored late on, meeting Youri Tielemans’ fine cross at the back post with a controlled half-volley.5 – Belgium have scored five goals in a single World Cup match for the first time in their history. Hammering. #BELTUN #BEL #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/Ruh2qkZrbR— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 23, 2018Khazri scored a consolation deep into stoppage time after a neat swivel in the box, but it mattered little as Belgium comfortably took a giant stride towards the last 16. Key Opta Stats:- Belgium have won each of their last six World Cup group-stage matches, winning their last one in 2002, all three in 2014 and their opening two of this tournament.- Tunisia are now winless in 13 World Cup matches (D4 L9), losing their last four in a row.- Lukaku has scored 17 goals in his last 11 matches for Belgium, failing to score in just one of those matches (against Portugal earlier this month).- Belgium have won 11 of their 12 competitive matches under Roberto Martinez (D1), scoring 51 goals and conceding just eight. read morelast_img read more