World Cup 2018: Belgium v Panama - Player ratings
Three second-half goals saw Belgium thrash Panama in their first game of the 2018 World Cup, in a Group G encounter. The match ended 3-0, courtesy a splendid volley from Dries Mertens, followed by a brace from Romelu Lukaku.
Having started off the game in dominant fashion, the Red Devils faded away as the first half went on. Although they forced Panama deeper into their own half, the Belgians never shifted gears. There seemed to be a lack of energy and urgency about their style of play.
Just two minutes into the second half, Mertens put his side's nose in front by scoring a screamer. Since then, drop in concentration levels and lack of spirit proved to be Panama's undoing. The scoreline doesn't really suggest the manner of proceedings in the match but nonetheless, Roberto Martinez's side made easy work of Los Canaleros to claim an important start to the campaign.
Here are the player ratings of both sides -
Thibaut Courtois - 7/10
He was barely called upon, as Blas Perez and co. failed to add creativity to their passion. Made one good save to grab the ball off the toes of the Panamian forward, but made a poor clearance.
Toby Alderweireld - 8.5/10
The centre-half was strong and watchful throughout the game. In addition to that, Alderweireld spread the play, played the ball out of the back comfortably and didn't commit to challenges.
Dedryck Boyata - 7.5/10
Boyata kept Blas Perez up in wraps as he always won the first ball and aerial duels. One could say he filled in Kompany's boots well.
Jan Vertonghen - 7/10
Apart from a couple of man-marking errors, Vertonghen was a symbol of solidity at the back. He chipped in with a good number of clearances and tackles.
Thomas Meunier - 6/10
Advanced forward with a lot of intent, but let himself down due to poor crossing and reckless tackling. He clattered his man, gave away fouls and struggled to stay solid.
Kevin De Bruyne - 6.5/10
Not the best of games as far as his standards are considered. His long balls were mishit and wayward, and the deeper role didn't seem to suit him. However, you can't keep him out of the game as De Bruyne fed Lukaku with a sublime pass.
Also to mention, his work rate was second to none.
Axel Witsel - 7/10
Witsel might not have been the most sparkling and scintillating in midfield, but he had his task cut out. The midfielder balanced his workload well, screening the defence and spraying passes with utmost ease. Although he didn't have sheer control in midfield, the 29 year old kept it simple.
Yannick Carrasco - 4/10
Martinez's decision to play him at left wing-back still seems to be debatable, as Carrasco didn't get into advanced positions or provide any zip going forward. At the back, very little was expected of him.
Dries Mertens - 8/10
Started off slowly but settled into the game really well as it went on. He whipped a couple of good crosses into the box, linked up well with Meunier and scored a blinder of a goal - the perfect dipping volley.
Eden Hazard - 8.5/10
His game was on a different platform. Considering the speed at which his teammates were moving the ball, one would feel that Hazard was let down by them.
The little magician drew fouls, twisted, turned and jinxed past his marker, played passes to perfection and brought about a sense of creativity in midfield and attack. He also unleashed his deadly counter-attacking moves when he assisted Lukaku for the third.
Romelu Lukaku - 8/10
His display in the first-half was dismal. With just over five touches, Lukaku looked static and rusty.
He was kept at bay by the opposition centre-half for the most part of the game but once he dispatched his first with a fine header, the Manchester United forward looked sharp, willing and lethal.
Mousa Dembele - 7/10
He contributed while guarding his back line, moved the ball quickly from defence to midfield and as always, Dembele was safe as a house in possession.
Thorgan Hazard - NA
Didn't make a significant contribution since coming on.
Nacer Chadli - NA
Brought on in injury time to seal the deal.