x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Without Mohamed Salah, Egypt suffer 3-0 defeat to Belgium as World Cup nerves kick in

Goals from Lukaku, Hazard and Fellaini make it an easy night's work for Martinez's side

Eden Hazard, centre, celebrates with Belgium teammate Yannick Carrasco after scoring Belgium's second goal against Egypt at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP
Eden Hazard, centre, celebrates with Belgium teammate Yannick Carrasco after scoring Belgium's second goal against Egypt at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

Belgium hammered the final nail into Egypt's halting World Cup warm-up campaign with an assured 3-0 win in Brussels on Wednesday that settled some nerves among the fancied hosts, who lacked injured defensive linchpin Vincent Kompany.

Sticking with a three-man defence, England's group-stage opponents Belgium showed more cutting edge up front than in their goalless outing at home on Saturday against Portugal.

Romelu Lukaku, favoured as starting striker over Michy Batshuayi, thumped home from close range in the 27th minute when Egypt's 45-year-old keeper Essam El-Hadary spilled from Eden Hazard.

Chelsea midfielder Hazard then made it 2-0 11 minutes later after Yannick Carrasco cut the ball back from the goal line.

Batshuayi, on for Lukaku, set up Marouane Fellaini for a final flourish in stoppage time to complete a sixth straight game without a win for Egypt.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez hailed improvements in his side's "togetherness" as well as their attacking performance.

The Spaniard had raised eyebrows by slotting Laurent Ciman into captain Kompany's No 4 shirt and keeping him on for 90 minutes. Ciman is officially only on the waiting list for Russia in case the Manchester City man or Barcelona's Thomas Vermaelen are still injured.

_____________

Read more on World Cup 2018:

Group A guide: Hosts Russia under pressure to reach last 16, will Salah be fit for Egypt?

Group G guide: Belgium have bags of talent, expectations low for England

Lowdown: Predictions, podcasts, galleries and where to watch in UAE

_____________

"If those players are not in the squad, Laurent will be a straight replacement," Martinez said, describing Ciman as a good fit for either injured defender.

He insisted he was still giving Kompany and Vermaelen, who are training with the squad, time to prove their fitness and said there could also be roles for Dedryck Boyata and Leander Dendoncker, depending on the opposition.

Belgium will complete their warm-up fixtures with another home tie, against Costa Rica, next Monday after which Martinez must decide on his final 23-man squad for Russia.

Egypt, missing injured Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, rarely troubled Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois, although midfielder Trezeguet forced Courtois into a save a minute after coming on for Marwan Mohsen in the second half.

Egypt begin their World Cup campaign against Uruguay in Russia next Friday.

RELATED ARTICLES
Recommended