Belgium 3-0 Panama: World Cup 2018 - 3 things that went right for Belgium
Belgium entered the FIFA World Cup touted to be the dark horses, and it didn't take them very long to show the world why. The Red Devils had been unbeaten in nine of their last World Cup group stage games and they simply weren't in the mood to let that change last night.
The country's 'Golden Generation' oozed class as they dismantled a hapless Panama side in what turned out to be an absolutely dominant performance. Dries Mertens opened the scoring for the Belgians with an excellent volley in the 47th minute, just as the second half began.
Romelu Lukaku then stole the show with a crucial brace as he first headed in a pinpoint cross from Kevin De Bruyne, who else, and then kept his composure to perfection to beat Panama's onrushing goalkeeper, Jaime Penedo, in a one-on-one scenario to give Belgium an infallible 3-0 lead and subsequent victory.
Roberto Martinez, Belgium's manager, could not have asked for a better start and while keeping that in mind, here is a look at three things that went right for the Belgian Red Devils:
#3 Constant application of pressure
A popular saying goes, "attack is the best form of defence", and that's exactly what Belgium seemed to follow last night. Roberto Martinez's side dominated the game right from the get-go.
Maintaining 61.9% possession of the ball and making a total of 568 passes, the men in red constantly controlled the game, often keeping the ball in Panama's territory forcing them to defend for a majority of the game.
With the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens and Eden Hazard, there was little doubt that attack would be the way to go. However, for a team that's often accused of not clicking together, the execution was always going to be crucial and the Belgians seemed to hit the nail the plan to perfection.
Further, Belgium outplayed Panama in nearly every department, winning 18 aerial duels as compared to Panama's 10 while also making 8 successful dribbles as opposed to Panama's 4.
This emphatic victory is bound to inject plenty of confidence into the side and it's certainly going to be exciting to watch them going forward.