Contenders Belgium outclass Panama in 3-0 win

Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku vies for the ball with Panama's goalkeeper Jaime Penedo during their 2018 World Cup Group G match at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi

Romelu Lukaku's pace in the run-up to his second goal vs Panama was very impressive

The expectation was that Belgium would cruise from there, given the grip that it had had on the game throughout, but Panama almost grabbed an equalizer in the 55th minute when Edgar Barcenas' lofted ball found Michael Murillo alone on goal, forcing Thibaut Courtois to come up with a point-blank save.

Despite being held at the interval Belgium found another gear after the restart, Dries Mertens breaking the deadlock with a wonderful volley before Romelu Lukaku added a quickfire brace to secure a 3-0 success.

Our recommended way to watch the Belgium vs Panama game online live streaming without cable is via Hulu Live TV.

Belgium and Panama will meet for the for the first time in their history.

Weakness: Expectation. England supporters will need no reminding of how hype and expectancy can weigh heavy on even the most talented players, and it was tempting to wonder how Belgium's own golden generation were coping with the pressure of being touted as favourites for the World Cup during a laboured first half against Panama. This time their stars including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are promising greater returns.

"We were very compact in the first half but we are beaten by a brilliant goal in the second half", Roman Torres said. The Red Devils struggled with Panama's physical play in the first half and couldn't get one past Jaime Penedo, but in the second half the attack came alive, and it wore the Central American side down on the way to a 3-0 victory.

Panama, on the other hand, have an uphill battle on their hands to prove they could upset some of the well-established teams in their group and try as hard as possible to advance. On the day the Canaleros didn't embarrass themselves but were simply no match for a Belgian team with a sizable edge in talent.

All three showed variety in their play.

Martinez accepted his side - unbeaten in qualifying and the first European nation to book a spot at Russian Federation 2018 - were not at their best during a flat first-half display.

After receiving a pass from Hazard, the Manchester City playmaker entered the box from the left before picking out Lukaku with a pin-point cross, hit with the outside of his boot. Hazard was a menace throughout much of the match and his assist for Lukaku's second was perfectly timed.

Mertens is no slouch himself, as his exploits at club level with Napoli have shown.

Strength: Managerial experience. Boss Hernan Gomez is leading a third different team at a third different World Cup.

Of course, the curse of being such gifted players is raised expectations that more game-breaking plays will be made, and more often.

Latest News