MX23RW : Wednesday, September 19 07:33:06
Jun 23, 2018 at 1pm UK at ​Otkrytiye Arena
Attendance: 44,190
Belgium
5-2
Tunisia
Hazard (6' pen., 51'), Lukaku (16', 45'), Batshuayi (90')
FT(HT: 3-1)
Bronn (18'), Khazri (90')
Sassi (14')

Live Commentary: Belgium 5-2 Tunisia - as it happened

Live Commentary: Belgium 5-2 Tunisia - as it happened
© Reuters
Relive Sports Mole's live coverage as Belgium register a 5-2 victory over Tunisia to all but guarantee a place in the last 16 of the World Cup.

Belgium have recorded a 5-2 victory over Tunisia in Saturday's World Cup encounter in Moscow.

Eden Hazard started the rout from the penalty spot and the Chelsea playmaker and Romelu Lukaku had effectively put the game beyond Tunisia's reach by the 51st minute.

Michy Batshuayi added a fifth for Belgium - who have all but guaranteed a top-two spot in Group G - while Tunisia's goals came from Dylan Bronn and Wahbi Khazri.

Find out how all of the action unfolded in Russia's capital courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.


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12.00pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the Group G encounter between Belgium and Tunisia. Both teams endured different fortunes in their opening contest but the result of this game is no foregone conclusion.

12.02pmBefore we move on to the facts and figures, let's take a look at the two starting lineups, beginning with Belgium...

12.04pmBELGIUM XI: Courtois; Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, Carrasco; Mertens, Lukaku, Hazard

12.06pmTUNISIA XI: Ben Mustapha; Meriah, S.Ben Youssef, Bronn, Maaloul; Sassi, Skhiri, Badri; F.Ben Youssef, Khazri, Khaoui

12.08pmLet's start with Belgium as Roberto Martinez opts to name an unchanged starting lineup. It comes as little surprise given the start to this competition from the Red Devils, although Martinez did have options if he wished to change it up.

12.10pmVincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen have both been struggling with injury, so Celtic's Dedryck Boyata retains his place in the side with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen playing either side in a three-man backline.

12.12pmMousa Dembele had been in contention to start in midfield but the Tottenham Hotspur player must make do with a spot among the replacements with Martinez instead preferring to remain with Axel Witsel.

12.14pmIt was more cut-and-dried as far as the attack was concerned, with Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku all starting in a front three. Mertens and Lukaku both got on the scoresheet against Panama and will expect to do so again.

12.16pmAs for Tunisia, Nabil Maaloul is forced into a change between the sticks after a shoulder injury sustained by Mouez Hassen. It means that Farouk Ben Mustapha - who replaced Hassen against England - comes in for his 17th cap.

12.18pmThere is also a change in the final third with Saber Khalifa being brought into the attack. The 31-year-old has scored seven goals from 45 appearances for his country. Naim Sliti is the man to make way.

12.20pmMaaloul has retained the rest of the team which started against England, with Sunderland's Wahbi Khazri being given responsibility to make Tunisia tick in the final third. The 27-year-old is the only Tunisia player in this squad who has scored more than 10 goals for his country.

12.22pmLeicester City defender Yohan Benalouane has been kept in reserve. The 31-year-old may have fancied his chances of being drafted into the team after Tunisia struggled to contain England - especially in the first half - but the 31-year-old must remain patient.

12.24pmThis is the first of three games which are taking place on Saturday. Later today, South Korea and Mexico square off in Group F before Germany and Sweden do battle in the same group. Click here to read a preview for both matches.

12.26pmBelgium head into the game having recorded a 3-0 triumph over Panama earlier this week. However, Martinez's team did not have it all their own way. Click here to read back on that fixture.

12.28pmThat result extended Belgium's unbeaten record in World Cup group fixtures to 10 matches! You have to go back to Belgium's final group game of the 1994 edition when they faced Saudi Arabia in Washington.

12.30pmBelgium are also a win away from reaching the knockout stages of a World Cup for the seventh time in eight attempts. Their only failure came in 1998.

12.32pmIf you are hoping for a first-half goal from Belgium, do not get your hopes up. Their last 11 strikes at this competition have come after the break!

12.34pmHowever, the main stat that you and Tunisia should probably take notice of is Belgium going 20 matches without suffering a defeat. September 1, 2016 was the date when they succumbed in a friendly against Spain.

12.36pmTunisia will also be fearful of Belgium's star-studded attack, which has scored at least two goals in a game in 12 of the last 14 attempts!

12.38pmEarlier this week, Tunisia came up short against England but there were positives to take from their performance in Volgograd. Click here to refresh your memories on that encounter.

12.40pmIn all fairness, Tunisia's squad is lacking in experience on the international stage. As many as 10 players in the 23-man group are yet to reach double figures when it comes to caps!

12.42pmWhile Belgium are on a long unbeaten streak, it has been 12 matches since Tunisia won a game at a World Cup! Their last success came in 1978 against Mexico.

12.44pmTunisia are struggling equally when it comes to defending. Just one clean sheet has been kept in 13 attempts, although that did come against West Germany in 1978.

12.46pmTunisia's form heading into this competition was solid enough but they are four games without a win. However, draws have been recorded against Portugal and Turkey, and one-goal defeats have come against Spain and England so it would be harsh to be too critical.

12.48pmPREDICTION! Tunisia have already proved that they are capable of frustrating one of the world's biggest nations and we think that will also be the case on Saturday. However, Belgium's superior firepower should be enough to seal a second victory in succession.

12.50pmHEAD TO HEAD! Saturday's match will represent the fourth time that these two nations have played each other, with both teams registering a win apiece from previous clashes.

12.52pmBelgium lost the first-ever encounter in 1992 by a 2-1 scoreline, but the spoils were shared 10 years later when the sides played each other at the World Cup.

12.54pmThe most recent match took place in 2014, with Belgium prevailing by a 1-0 scoreline thanks to a late strike from Mertens. The game was also delayed mid-match due to a hailstorm!

12.56pmIt's time for the two teams to make their way out in Moscow. It's a humid day in Russia's capital with the temperature currently at 28C.

12.58pmA reminder of the two starting lineups...

BELGIUM XI: Courtois; Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, Carrasco; Mertens, Lukaku, Hazard

TUNISIA XI: Ben Mustapha; Meriah, S.Ben Youssef, Bronn, Maaloul; Sassi, Skhiri, Badri; F.Ben Youssef, Khazri, Khaoui


1 minKICKOFF! Belgium get us underway!

2 minIt takes 16 seconds for the first foul on Hazard. That may become a trend! From the resulting set piece, De Bruyne curls the ball straight through to Ben Mustapha.

4 minSHOT! Belgium have started this match on the front foot. Tunisia are already struggling to deal with the pace in their attack. Meunier gets the first shot away of the match but his low effort with his weaker left foot is comfortably saved.

5 minPENALTY TO BELGIUM! Hazard gets tripped by Ben Youssef on the right-hand side of the penalty area - it's right on the line, too - but VAR confirms that a spot kick has been correctly awarded.

7 minGOAL! Belgium 1-0 Tunisia (Eden Hazard)

7 minHazard makes no mistake from 12 yards. The Chelsea playmaker is usually more precise from the spot but on this occasion, he confidently swept the ball into the bottom corner.

9 minAlready, you feel as though this could be a long afternoon for Tunisia. Belgium have picked up where they left off against Panama and so far, Tunisia are showing no signs that they are able to cope.

11 minA stoppage in play briefly stops Belgium in their tracks but it doesn't take long for the Red Devils to go straight back onto the offensive.

13 minCHANCE! It should be 2-0. Lukaku gets down the right flank and delivers the perfect low cross for Hazard to meet. However, the winger scuffs his shot from 12 yards and Ben Mustapha gratefully claims the ball.

14 minBOOKING! Khazri attempts to buy a foul out of Vertonghen and the referee isn't interested. Sassi complains and deservedly receives a yellow card.

15 minSHOT! Carrasco is the next Belgium player to get a shot away but his low strike from 20 yards is easily dealt with by Ben Mustapha.

16 minGOAL! Belgium 2-0 Tunisia (Romelu Lukaku)

16 minIs this game over already? Belgium are rampant and it is no surprise that they have scored a second. Mertens threads a pass through to Lukaku and the forward bides his time before hitting a low shot into the far corner from 14 yards.

18 minGOAL! Belgium 2-1 Tunisia (Dylan Bronn)

18 minHang on a minute - Tunisia have a goal back! Khazri's inswinging free kick is headed into the far corner by Bronn, who nets his first goal for his country.

20 minSHOT! Now Carrasco sees a volley palmed away by Ben Mustapha! What a start to this match!

22 minSHOT! This has to be the best opening quarter of the tournament so far. Alderweireld runs from the halfway line and fires just wide from distance.

24 minWe currently have a stoppage in play due to an injury to Bronn. The 23-year-old has sustained an injury to his knee which came from blocking Carrasco's shot. He has been stretchered off and will play no further part.

24 minSUBSTITUTION! Nagguez has been introduced in Bronn's place.

26 minWe are seeing a bit of a lull in the action now. It had to be expected given the tempo of the first quarter and the temperatures in Moscow.

27 minThis probably should have been 3-1. Lukaku was played through on goal but a heavy touch saw the forward closed down by Ben Mustapha and the chance was lost.

29 minFor all of the chances in this game, we have only just had the first corner! It was for Belgium but it came to nothing. Tunisia are doing well to remain just the one goal behind.

31 minCHANCE! Better from Tunisia and Sassi's eyes light up when the ball falls invitingly to him on the edge of the area. However, the 26-year-old drags his effort wide of Courtois's right post.

33 minSHOT! Now Khazri takes aim from all of 25 yards, but the shot is straight at Courtois who is able to catch the ball at the second attempt.

35 minThis game is very similar to the the opening 45 minutes of Germany and Mexico. Both teams are intent on attacking at every given opportunity and look equally dodgy at the back. Belgium miss the leadership and composure of Vincent Kompany.

37 minKhazri has just sustained a knock to his ankle but the Sunderland winger is back to his feet. This tournament is acting as a shop window for the player who is likely to leave the Stadium of Light this summer.

39 minSHOT! I tell you what, I think I underestimated Tunisia earlier. They have been fantastic over the last 10 minutes and now Fakhreddine Ben Youssef goes close with a volley from the edge of the area.

41 minWe have got another stoppage in play for another injury to a Tunisia player. It looks like Syam Ben Youssef is done for the afternoon.

42 minSUBSTITUTION! On comes Leicester defender Benalouane, who will play in the centre of defence.

44 minWe have not seen much of Belgium since the half-hour mark but they are starting to show a bit more life as we approach the break. Tunisia will be content with this scoreline if they can hold on until half time.

45 minThere will be four minutes of added-on time.

45+2 minNearly a third for Belgium after a lightning counter-attack. Hazard plays in De Bruyne after racing from the halfway line but instead of shooting, De Bruyne opts to play the ball across to Lukaku, who cannot make connection around eight yards from goal.

45+3 minGOAL! Belgium 3-1 Tunisia (Romelu Lukaku)

45+3 minDisaster for Tunisia. They make another mistake at the back and after De Bruyne plays the ball to Meunier, the wing-back dinks a pass through to Lukaku who proceeds to dink a shot over Ben Mustapha from 12 yards. There is a lot of dinking but that was marvelous from Belgium.

45+4 minHALF TIME: Belgium 3-1 Tunisia

1.52pmThe half-time whistle goes in Moscow and Belgium hold a 3-1 advantage thanks to a Hazard penalty and a double from Lukaku. Tunisia had halved the deficit through Bronn but it is now a long way back for the African nation.

1.56pmBelgium were fantastic in that first half with Lukaku showing the benefit of a free-scoring campaign with Manchester United with two delightful finishes from inside of the area. Hazard's spot kick was equally confident and this looks like a Belgium side who are going through the gears in the final third.

2.00pmTunisia's goal came from a set piece but Maaloul's team have also had joy with creating opportunities from open play. With a bit more of a decisive touch, they could have been level before Lukaku's second goal.

2.04pmIt's time for the two teams to make their way back out. It doesn't look like there have been any changes, although Tunisia can't really make any at this stage with just one remaining!

46 minKICKOFF! After an 18-minute half time, Tunisia get us back underway.

47 minCHANCE! A low cross from De Bruyne finds Alderweireld at the near post but the Spurs defender hooks a shot well off target. That was half a chance.

49 minTunisia are certainly not playing like a team who think that this game is beyond them. Only a last-ditch tackle from Vertonghen prevents Khalifa from getting a shot away from close range.

51 minGOAL! Belgium 4-1 Tunisia (Eden Hazard)

51 minIt is probably beyond them now. De Bruyne plays the most wonderful pass through to Hazard, who controls the ball and rounds Ben Mustapha before volleying into an empty net. Game over.

53 minIt won't be long before Martinez starts to make changes. He has the opportunity to rest a few of his stars and he will no doubt take it.

55 minTunisia have offered plenty in both of their opening matches but they have still conceded six goals in 145 minutes of football. It doesn't represent the standard of their play and they are still giving it a go here.

57 minCarrasco has done well this afternoon but in the space of a minute, the winger sees a cross blocked by a defender and another delivery evade everyone inside of the penalty area.

59 minSUBSTITUTION! Here comes Belgium's first change with Fellaini being introduced for Lukaku.

60 minSUBSTITUTION! Tunisia have also made their final alteration with Sliti replacing Sassi.

62 minSHOT! What a strike this is. Carrasco only has eyes for the far top corner and the ball evades it by a matter of inches.

64 minIt has started raining in Moscow and everyone is delighted! It remains really warm and humid, with the temperature still in the region of 30C. That said, the tempo of this match has now started to drop.

66 minTunisia are still looking to pressure Belgium wherever they can. They win a corner and the ball eventually reaches Sliti on the edge of the area, but Vertonghen makes the block.

67 minSHOT! Now Badri gets a decent shot away from the edge of the area but Courtois anticipates the effort and claims low down to his left.

68 minSUBSTITUTION! A second change for Belgium sees Batshuayi introduced to replace Hazard.

70 minAs we reach the 70-minute mark, there have been 27 shots in this game with Tunisia only having one less than Belgium. Tunisia will come out of this game with some credit but like they are against the majority of nations in the world, Belgium are a class above in the final third.

72 minOuch. Vertonghen takes a knock to the head after winning an aerial ball by the penalty spot. You know it was a nasty one because Khazri called for the referee to stop play, but it looks like the defender will be fine to continue.

74 minSuch is the state of this game that the supporters have started a Mexican wave. They know that this encounter is over as a contest. We await Martinez's third and last switch for Belgium.

76 minCHANCE! Batshuayi has been looking to get onto the end of through-balls ever since being introduced and he does so here and rounds Ben Mustapha, but the substitute sees his effort towards an empty net cleared off the line by Meriah.

78 minWith fitness doubts over Kompany and Vermaelen, I'm surprised that Martinez has not replaced either Alderweireld or Vertonghen. Belgium have plenty of options in the final third but not so many at the back.

80 minCHANCE! What a miss from Batshuayi. Ben Mustapha fumbles Carrasco's low shot and Batshuayi should convert the rebound from six yards out. However, the Chelsea man lashes the ball off the crossbar and it rebounds to safety.

81 minCHANCE! This is unbelievable! Batshuayi now sees a volley from point-blank range brilliantly saved by Ben Mustapha. Batshuayi cannot believe it!

83 minJust the seven minutes to go now. For whatever reason, Martinez is currently opting against using his final change. Belgium are well on top now.

86 minSUBSTITUTION! Here comes that change with Tielemans being introduced for Mertens.

88 minTunisia are doing all that they can to keep this down to four. I have no idea how Belgium haven't scored more but Tunisia are trying to keep this respectable.

90 minGOAL! Belgium 5-1 Tunisia (Michy Batshuayi)

90 minBatshuayi gets the goal that he deserves! Tielemans whips in a wonderful cross towards the back post and Batshuayi slides in to produce a clinical finish from around eight yards out. It's a very good goal.

90+3 minGOAL! Belgium 5-2 Tunisia (Wahbi Khazri)

90+3 minTunisia get another consolation goal through Khazri, who sweeps into the net from close range after meeting Nagguez's cross.

90+4 minFULL TIME: Belgium 5-2 Tunisia

3.03pmThe full-time whistle goes in Moscow and Belgium have all but assured their place in the last 16 with a 5-2 victory over Tunisia. Both teams could have scored more - especially Belgium - but the Red Devils have laid down a marker to England and the rest of their World Cup rivals. Tunisia need a miracle to avoid elimination.

3.05pmThat will be all from Sports Mole for this game. Thank you for joining us this afternoon and we hope that you can stick around for the fixture involving South Korea and Mexico.

If you would like to read our on-the-whistle match report, you can do so by clicking here. Goodbye for now.


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Tunisia manager Nabil Maaloul on June 1, 2018
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