Belgium finally break Panama down as De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku deliver

Romelu Lukaku Belgium

FIFA World Cup 2018: Panama fail to put 'title favourites' Belgium to test in a game of contrasting halves

On paper, the battle between the two teams is a complete mismatch but if the tournament's first few days are anything to go by, it is safe to say that no team can be written off in advance.

This World Cup has been such a treat that we can not seem to turn our heads in any direction without seeing an absolutely stunning goal being scored. Hazard found Kevin De Bruyne, and his sumptuous cross with the outside of the right boot was headed in by Lukaku.

A moment of inspiration from Dries Mertens set the Belgians on their way two minutes after the break, his volley breaking the deadlock after a rather flat first period.

When you have a roster as star-studded as Belgium's, it's tempting to think that against an overmatched opponent everything should be easy.

After 12 minutes, a poor pass from Fidel Escobar to Penedo alerted Hazard who pounced with a quick shot that riddled into the side-netting.

With a likely top of the table clash against England on the final group game, Belgium need to get off the ground running if they wish to amend the mistakes that their competitors made in other groups. Panama is repeatedly conceding corners. Martinez will heavily rely on their attacking trio of Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens who will be looking to support central striker Romelu Lukaku ably.

Panama captain Roman Torres had his head down, eyes closed, engrossed in the realization of a dream.

Belgium will have a point to prove this time and show this team has finally come of age to win a major tournament and put their doubters in place big time. They have impressed in their pre-tournament friendlies and have a number of world-class players at the peak of their powers.

"In the World Cup you have to play 90 minutes". For them, just being at the World Cup is enough - and they rightly took the acclaim of the crowd at the end.

Belgium is now unbeaten in its last six World Cup openers, dating back to 1986.

Panama was called for 18 fouls and shown five yellow cards. His players bring solid worldwide experience as well, with the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and UEFA EURO 2016 under their belts, and they now hope to reach a whole new level in Russian Federation.

Mertens' superb opening goal kicked Belgium into action against Panama.

A 10-year-old boy from Bengaluru on Tuesday created history by becoming the first ever Indian to be an official match ball carrier in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russian Federation. A state-of-the-art facility, it was built for the 2014 Winter Olympics and hosted its opening and closing ceremonies.

The two nations have never previously met, meaning that regardless of the outcome and quality of the encounter, Monday's game will go down as a historic match.

The FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium vs Panama match begins at 8:30 pm IST.

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