June 6, 2018 / 9:19 PM / 2 months ago

Soccer-Belgium cruise past Egypt 3-0 to settle World Cup nerves

BRUSSELS, June 6 (Reuters) - Belgium hammered the final nail into Egypt’s halting World Cup warm-up campaign with an assured 3-0 win in Brussels on Wednesday that settled some nerves among the fancied hosts, who lacked injured defensive linchpin Vincent Kompany.

Sticking with a three-man defence, England’s group-stage opponents Belgium showed more cutting edge up front than in their goalless outing at home on Saturday against Portugal.

Romelu Lukaku, favoured as starting striker over Michy Batshuayi, thumped home from close range in the 27th minute when Egypt’s 45-year-old keeper Essam El-Hadary spilled from Eden Hazard.

Chelsea midfielder Hazard then made it 2-0 11 minutes later after a weaving Yannick Carrasco cut the ball back from the goal line.

Batshuayi, on for Lukaku, set up Marouane Fellaini for a final flourish in stoppage time to complete a sixth straight game without a win for Egypt.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez raised eyebrows by slotting Laurent Ciman into skipper Kompany’s number four shirt and keeping him on for 90 minutes. Ciman is officially only on the waiting list for Russia in case the Manchester City man, or possibly Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen are injured.

“It makes sense that he’s standing in a position where he is waiting for what is going to happen,” Martinez said, describing Ciman as a good fit for either injured defender.

Belgium will complete their warm-up fixtures with another home tie, against Costa Rica, next Monday after which Martinez must decide on his final 23-man squad for Russia.

Egypt, missing injured Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, rarely troubled Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois, although midfielder Trezeguet forced Courtois into a save a minute after coming on for Marwan Mohsen in the second half.

Egypt begin their World Cup campaign against Uruguay in Russia next Friday.

Editing by Toby Davis

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