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Mixed performances from Chelsea trio in Belgium vs. Russia

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Jamie Squire

If Romelu Lukaku was hoping to use the World Cup to show what he can do ... well it's not going very well for him so far. Desperately disappointing in Belgium's opening match against Algeria, he was given a second chance by Marc Wilmots versus Russia and didn't do a whole lot better. While he wasn't as thoroughly inept as against the Fennec Foxes, for the second straight match he was so poor that he didn't even make it to the hour mark, and this time his replacement, 19-year-old Divock Origi, ended up scoring the winning goal.

Not all of Belgium's toothlessness was Lukaku's fault. Not even most of it was. His runs were by and large ok, but the midfielders couldn't get him the ball. Unsurprisingly, his attempts to drop back into the midfield and help with buildup play didn't go very well. right now he's trying to do too much -- he needs to get back to bullying defenders with his strength if they're not going to give him space to run into.

Chelsea's other Belgian's had a slightly better day, although in Eden Hazard's case and praise has to be toned down on account of him not really turning up for 80 minutes. Yes, he was routinely double-teamed by a Russia side that was clearly terrified of him, but happens a lot and it rarely phases the 23-year-old, and I'm really not sure what was wrong with him. Whatever it was, he shook it off towards the end of the game, and was the dominant force as Belgium searched for (and found the winger).

Origi's goal came from Hazard pushing down the left win, skipping past a pair of defenders before cutting the ball back with a very nice assist, and he could easily have had another one when he pulled Russia's whole line apart by himself and set up Kevin Mirallas in stoppage time. Everything good about Belgium in that spell came from Hazard, and while they'll probably be wondering what took him so long they're surely appreciative of the fact that he turned on the jets when it counted.

As for Thibaut Courtois, he was Thibaut Courtois. He didn't have much to do -- Russia's most dangerous shots were off target -- and his positioning was pretty much perfect all game. No complaints here.