2018 FIFA World Cup, Group Stage
  • Dries Mertens (47')
  • Romelu Lukaku (69', 75')

Romelu Lukaku scores twice as Belgium ease to victory over Panama

Belgium laboured for large periods but still ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against Panama in Sochi.

All the goals came in the second half, with Dries Mertens scoring a superb volley before Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku put the game to bed.

Belgium dominated the opening exchanges, with Eden Hazard firing into the side-netting and Kevin De Bruyne shooting over from the edge of the box.

Robert Martinez's men had a series of opportunities to create from set pieces around the box, Mertens volleying wide from a De Bruyne set-up in the final few minutes of the half.

Armando Cooper fired over from distance as World Cup debutants Panama were allowed to push forward in the closing moments.

If Panama held out for the whole of the first half, their resistence didn't last long after the break as Belgium finally found the back of the net two minutes after the restart.

A loose ball dropped to Mertens just inside the box, and the Napoli forward produced a superb volley to fire a shot into the opposite corner beyond a helpless Jaime Penedo in the Panama goal.

Belgium suddenly had a spring in their step, and De Bruyne shot inches wide with a free kick.

Then out of nowhere Michael Murillo had a chance to pull Panama level when in on goal but Thibaut Courtois was out quickly to block his effort.

The game was effectively put to bed in the 69th minute as Romelu Lukaku stooped to head home De Bruyne's delightful ball into the box from eight yards out.

The third came 15 minutes from time as Hazard fed Lukaku through on goal, and he made no mistake lifting the ball over Penedo and into the net.

Panama had a couple of late opportunities but Courtois had routine saves.