World Cup Qatar 2022
Group f / DAY 3
The world runner-up suffers in the round of 16 and points to a rival from Spain. Roberto Martínez’s men fall with Eden as a substitute
One day it was going to happen. And it happened. Eden Hazard is now officially an active ex-footballer. He has been in Madrid for three and a half years as a residual player and since December 1, 2022 he has also been a residual player in his team. In the game in which Belgium was playing whether or not to continue to the World Cup and, therefore, avoid the end of one of the best generations in its history, the captain of the ‘red devils’ stayed on the bench and only played three minutes, in a substitution with a symbolic charge even higher than the sporting one. A shame the sad epilogue in the career of one of the best players in modern football. Goodbye to Hazard and goodbye to Belgium, the great disappointment of the tournament, in an afternoon in which the classification was several times in the hands of Lukaku. But the Belgian failed everything that could fail, his face reflected the frustration of not being able to lead his teammates to the round of 16 and he already exploded with the game over when on his way to the changing rooms he smashed the glass partition where the players sit.
Courtois; Meunier (Hazard, 87), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne; Dendoncker (Tielemans, 72), Witsel, De Bruyne; Carrasco (Doku, 72), Trossard (T. Hazard, 58) and Mertens (Lukaku, 46)
Livakovic; Juranovic, Gvardiol, Lovren, Sosa; Brozovic, Modric, Kovacic; Livaja (Petkovic, 64), Perisic and Kramaric (Pasalic, 64)
Eden’s substitution was not the only novelty for Roberto Martínez against the Croats. The Catalan coach, who is ending his contract and except for surprise will leave the Belgian bench after eight years as owner, abandoned his classic system of three defenders to play with four backs. The movement is as legitimate as it is strange, a symptom of the doubts with which Belgium arrived in Qatar and the storm with which it leaves the first World Cup played in the Middle East.
The first half was very entertaining in its first fifteen minutes. Both teams came out without shackles, in search of the goal that would give them the winning hand, but a controversial VAR decision brought down the good intentions of Croatia and Belgium. Perisic, after 20 seconds, with a good shot, and Mertens, after a gallop ‘made in’ De Bruyne that he finished with a deflected shot, had the option of opening the scoring. And then came Carrasco’s no penalty.
At the height of the penalty spot, the Belgian player stepped on Kramaric in an unnecessary clumsiness, with the Croatian striker without the ball under control and with his back to goal. Taylor signaled the eleven meters, but four minutes later, and after being called by the VAR, he reversed his decision for Lovren’s offside. The checkered center-back was in an illegal position by millimeters in the action prior to Carrasco’s infraction and, although he did not touch the ball in the dispute with Vertonghen, the VAR considered that his influence on the jump with the Belgian center-back conditioned the rest of the game. the play and, consequently, the penalty. Taylor’s interpretation, after seeing the images on the monitor, coincided with that of the VAR, and there the morbidity of seeing Modric take a penalty to Courtois and the happy game that both teams had proposed up to that moment died. The psychological effect of the scare was such that from there until the break, nothing.
After the snack, Martínez opted for Lukaku and the change shook Belgium, and also Croatia. A goal from the Central Europeans sent the runner-up home and got them. Speculating was not the best idea and that must have been thought by Croatia, who in a ten-minute interval put Courtois to the test three times with shots from Kovacic, Brozovic and Modric. On all three occasions the Madrid goalkeeper spat out the danger with his gloves. This Croatian mini-siege had a quick response from Lukaku, who crashed the ball into the woodwork (minute 60), in the clearest occasion for Belgium.
In the last half hour, the game was definitively broken, although the arrivals in the area of both teams were a want and I can’t. Fatigue and precipitation in the last pass, until a dramatic and agonizing final rush in which Lukaku had the qualifying goal twice. In minute 87, his shot on the balcony of the small area went by the bottom line and in minute 90, Lukaku, the clearest. Only in the small area, to clinch a good cross from Thorgan Hazard, Romelu neither shot nor controlled. A hybrid that left the ball dead on the way to the goal line, but with snail speed, which made it easier for Livakovic to catch the ball and seal the pass for Croatia, who will almost certainly be Spain’s rival in the round of 16.
#Croatia #buries #Belgium #Lukaku