Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Lukaku for England game, says coach Roberto Martinez

Lukaku for England game, says coach Roberto Martinez

Toni Kroos rescued holders Germany from the brink of an unthinkable early World Cup exit here Saturday, curling home a sensational victor in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win over Sweden. "We were in full flow going forward, we looked really sharp".

Japan, Senegal and Colombia are all possible opponents for Belgium and England in the round of 16.

With England and Belgium already qualified for the knockout stage after winning their first two matches, Thursday's Group G game in the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad could be a time to give some tired or ailing stars a breather and underused squad members a run out.

England have three points, with Panama and Tunisia on nought. "He did it again today and I'm happy I matched his performance". "So when you've got that, then the individuals can show their talent".

We get it, Roberto, but in Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku you have an attacking trident as captivating to watch as Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Lukaku, playmaker Eden Hazard and winger Dries Mertens are all nursing injuries after Belgium's 5-2 victory over Panama.

They are now locked together on six points with the same goal difference, having scored and conceded the same number of goals, although England are now ahead by virtue of fewer bookings. It has reached semifinals twice at major events, losing 2-1 to West Germany at the 1972 Euros and to Maradona's Argentina at the 1986 World Cup. This squad is largely that squad, matured through two quarter-final appearances in Brazil and at Euro 2016, where they were surprisingly duped by Wales.

Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard star as Belgium rout Tunisia
Batshuayi, who came on for Hazard, had three quality chances to score in an increasingly driving rain before finally converting. Ali Maaloul's weak pass on the halfway line was collected by Dries Mertens, who sprinted away and put Lukaku clear.

Given the past and the sound and fury that would follow any misstep, Martinez wants to manage expectations.

"It would be risky and a real gamble to play any of the players who have yellow cards because you don't want a player missing in the knock-out stage", he said. "The World Cup is something that probably gives you an advantage psychologically when you've won it before".

Roberto Martinez's star-studded squad emerged as 3-0 victor in its opening Group G game in Sochi on June18 but will likely find Tunisia a far more robust and defensively astute opponent when they meet at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. "The reality is that we are qualified and in a tournament like the World Cup, you're only as good as the 23 players (in the squad)". Now we're just trying to enjoy it.

Both have already qualified for the last 16 - only the group victor needs to be decided - so Thursday's Group G finale in Kaliningrad provides a rare chance in an unrelenting World Cup schedule to rest exhausted legs, recover from injuries and avoid the risk of suspensions.

Romelu Lukaku has been praised for his actions during a 5-2 Belgium win over Tunisia as the Manchester United star bagged a brace.

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