The Belgians began their World Cup with a matchup against the African stars of Algeria. Belgium featured three Chelsea players in their lineup in Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, and former Blue Kevin De Bruyne. The match began with an early disaster for the Red Devils as Tottenham Hotspur centerback Jan Vertonghen needlessly fouled Sofiane Feghouli in the box and prevented from making an attempt at a cross that he was unlikely to get to anyway.
The referee pointed directly to the spot and Feghouli stepped up and finished low to Courtois’s left to give Algeria the early lead over Belgium. Romelu Lukaku was laboring up front for much of the match and unfortunately for him was largely ineffective. The Chelsea forward did not record a shot on goal against a stingy Algeria defense and was brought off in the 57th minute in favor of 19 year old Lille forward Divock Origi. Origi had a clear chance just minutes later as he ran free on goal but could not convert a chance that a more experienced striker like Lukaku probably would have.
The equalizer came for Belgium courtesy of a Marouane Fellaini header in the 70th minute from a De Bruyne cross and the Devils took the lead just 10 minutes later. De Bruyne won the ball in front of the Belgium box and Vertonghen found Eden Hazard in the middle of the park. The Chelsea star broke out on the counter and was looking to deliver the killer ball. He found the substitute Dries Mertens of Napoli streaking down the right side of the box and fed him the ball in stride. Mertens thumped it home past Rais M’Bolhi and Belgium had the lead for good.
Thibaut Courtois had little to do all match long as Algeria only recorded one shot on goal and that was the penalty. Courtois guessed wrong on the penalty but it was well taken low to the keeper’s left and as with most penalties it is simply a bonus if the keeper saves it. This was not a great all around performance for the Belgians and Lukaku struggled but Eden Hazard recorded an assist and the Red Devils got all three points.
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