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Belgium 3-0 Panama, World Cup: Lukaku brace highlights second-half show from favorites

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Belgium v Panama: Group G - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

FULL-TIME: Belgium win!

90min: 4 minutes added on.

88min: De Bruyne collects a yellow for dangerous play.

86min: Tremendous save from Courtois with Panama 2-v-1 to keep the sheet clean.

83min: Mertens makes way for Thorgan Hazard. Eden & Thorgan fulfilling a life goal there to play together in a World Cup match.

81min: Belgium turn on the style, but Meunier’s spinning backheel flick is saved. Offside flag goes up, too, just for good measure.

78min: Murillo with a brilliant tackle to take the ball off Hazard in the penalty area.

75min: Game over. Hazard sets up Lukaku, who makes no mistake. 3-0.

74min: Final change for Panama: Perez off for Tejada. Belgium add a midfielder in response, Dembele on for Carrasco and Belgium move to a back-four with Vertonghen at left back. Courtois has a clearance blocked for a goal kick.

69min: And there is two. Belgium keep the ball some more, De Bruyne crosses with the outside of the boot and Lukaku is there at the far post to dive at it and put it in the back of the net.

68min: Belgium keep the ball. And keep the ball some more.

63min A period of Belgium possession ends in a corner and a Vertonghen header that is saved easily. Panama make a double change, G, Torres on for Barcenas, Diaz on for J.Rodriguez

60min: Vertonghen next to be booked as Panama press forward.

57min: Godoy in the book, presumably for a bit of backchat.

54min: Fantastic chance for Panama as Murillo ghosts behind the left side of the defensive line, but his shot is blocked by Courtois, who came out well and made himself big. Torres wins the header on the subsequent corner, but it’s wide. That was a real chance for Panama.

51min: Murillo the fourth Panama player in the book as he hacks down Carrasco. De Bruyne takes the free-kick, but it’s wide of the near post.

47min: And there’s the breakthrough. Panama attempt to clear a cross, but it goes only as far as Mertens, who volleys it back and into the far corner of the net. Perfect start to the second half for Belgium.

46min: Lukaku gets us underway for the second half. No changes for either side

45+2min: Half-time. Belgium had the better of play and better of chances, but the match remains scoreless much to the obvious delight of the Panama faithful in the stadium.

45+1min: Barcenas earns a yellow.

44min: Panama launch a couple long balls forward, but Belgium’s defense up to the task. At the other end, Hazard tries to combine with Carrasco but he loses the ball. Panama come forward and it’s Hazard who stops them with a tactical foul while tracking back. That’s at least twice now that he’s done that!

38min: Hazard dribbles through a few in the center before unleashed a good-looking shot. Penama’s goalkeeper is up to the task to parry wide.

36min: Belgium work the ball to find an open cross from Meunier, but Lukaku (harshly) called for a foul on Torres.

34min: Panama come forward after a couple turnovers and win a corner. Like Belgium’s, it comes to nothing.

31min: Another corner for Belgium. Hazard takes, but it’s cleared by the man on the front post. Still scoreless as Belgium control possession and Panama look to counter.

27min: Hazard draws a foul just outside the area. No yellow for Murillo for some reason. De Bruyne’s free kick hits one of the two-man wall in the face.

26min: Hazard shot from outside the area! Well wide.

25min: Panama win the ball off Carrasco and launch a counter. Belgium clear the cross and bound forward. Escobar reads the play well and averts the danger for a corner. Belgium win the first ball from KDB’s corner, but Panama clear.

21min: De Bruyne steals the ball and puts in a great cross. Lukaku is there to tap it home but Roman Torres intervenes at the last second and diverts it for a corner, which Hazard takes short. KDB lets it fly from the corner of the area but it’s well high.

18min: Davis in the book for Panama for a rough tackle on Mertens. Then Mertens has another shot go wide on a corner.

17min: Panama growing in confidence. Vertonghen defends well to shut down the run on the right wing.

14min: Meunier collects the game’s first yellow for a forearm shiver into the midsection of Rodriguez.

11min: Panama keep possession for a minute but pose no danger. Hazard tracks back and forces a turnover. Then almost steals a goal as Roman Torres passes carelessly back but Eden’s shot is into the sidenetting instead.

7min: Hazard sets up Mertens whose shot is saved for a corner. Then sets up Mertens again but he kicks the ground instead. Then sets up Mertens again but he drags his shot well wide of the goal. Comedy.

5min: Good tempo early as Belgium set up shop in Panama’s half. Wayward cross from Vertonghen allows Panama a breather.

KICK-OFF: And we’re off in front of an excited crowd in Sochi. Lukaku has a shot inside of a minute, he thinks it should be corner but it’s given as a goal kick.

None of the World Cup favorites have lived up to their pre-tournament hype yet. Can Belgium make an early statement of intent? It is supposed to be their time, their trophy, their Golden Generation.

Led by Captain Eden Hazard, Chelsea's biggest star, plus Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and fan favorite supersub Michy Batshuayi — not to mention the ex-Chelsea trio of Lukaku, De Bruyne, and Thorgan Hazard — Team Chelsea take on Panama in what should be a straightforward win for the Red Devils.

Here we go.

Belgium starting lineup (3-4-3):
Courtois | Vertonghen, Boyata, Alderweireld | Carrasco, Witsel, De Bruyne, Meunier | E.Hazard (c), Lukaku, Mertens

Substitutes from: rest of the squad

Panama starting lineup (4-1-4-1):
Penedo | Davis, Escobar, Torres (c), Murillo | Gomez | Rodriguez Godoy, Cooper, Barcenas | Perez

Substitutes from: rest of the squad

Date / Time: Monday, June 18, 2018, 16:00 BST; 11am EDT
Venue: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
Referee: Janny Sikazwe (Zambia)
On TV: BBC One (UK); Fox Sports 1, Telemundo (USA); elsewhere
Streaming online: BBC iPlayer (UK); FOX Sports Go, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo; Sling World Cup (USA)

Stay tuned for updates, highlights, etc.

And be excellent to each other.

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