After Slow Start, Belgium powers past Panama 3-0


Photo Credit: FIFA

It was a tale of two halves for Belgium in the World Cup opener against world cup debutante, Panama.  Following a relatively lackluster first half, Belgium put away 3 goals in a dominant second half to show why many consider the Red Devils to be a great dark horse contender to win the 2018 World Cup.

 After an opening flurry of shots on goal by Belgium, Panama was able to hold Belgium in check with a combination of physical, incisive tackling and sloppy Belgian passing through much of the first half.  There was a general sense of lethargy from a Belgian side that was well aware of the fact that there was a 52 place different Belgium (Ranked #3) and Panama (ranked #55). Panama’s defensive efforts are to be lauded, containing a Belgian attack by pressing the Belgians and making sure that the frightening Belgian counterattack didn’t really see the light of day in the first half.

Wanting to avoid the fate of fellow tournament favorites like Germany, Brazil and Argentina, It took about 2 minutes into the second half for the Red Devils to find their sharpness with a superb volley from Dries Mertens over the outstretched fingers of Panama’s goalkeeper, Jamie Penedo, for their first goal of the tournament.  This strike seemed to crack the stout Panamanian defense and energize the dormant Belgium attack. The rest of the half was characterized by deep Belgian runs into the Panamanian defensive half, using their speed and skill to really trouble a Panama defense that was quickly losing confidence. Belgium continued to pressure Panama’s defense until a Romelu Lukaku goal via a diving header in the 69th minute effectively put the match away for the Red Devils.  Lukaku added another goal in the 75th minute, off a fantastic through ball from Eden Hazard, to continue his terrific form for country. The goal in the 75th minute was Lukaku’s fifth goal in the past month and Belgian manager, Roberto Martinez, hopes he continues this form through the group stages and beyond at this tournament.

Panama had a few attempts at goal late in the match but Belgian keeper, Thibault Courtois, was able to effectively handle those attempts without incident.  By the end of the match, Belgium had out outshot Panama 15-6 (6-2 on just shots on goal) and also helped a 60% to 40% lead on possession as well.

Belgium will hope to carry over the momentum that they generated in the second half of this match into their Saturday match on June 23 against Tunisia at 8 AM EDT.  Panama will hope to get back on track when they take on one of the other Group G favorites, England on Sunday. June 24th at 8 AM EDT.


Nothing Found

Apologies, but no results were found for the requested archive. Perhaps searching will help find a related post.


About Author

based in Frederick, MD, USA. Multi-sport correspondent for Prost International and Prost Amerika focusing mainly on Soccer/Football and American Football

Comments are closed.