Belgium rout Salah-less Egypt 3-0 in pre-World Cup friendly

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Brussels, June 7 (IANS) Belgium got goals from Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Marouane Fellaini in a 3-0 friendly victory here over Egypt, whose super-star striker Mohamed Salah is out with an injury and trying to recover in time for the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Belgium also was missing a key player, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, who sustained a groin injury in the team’s scoreless draw last Saturday in a friendly against Portugal and is doubtful for the football’s premier event, reports Efe.

The match at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels was especially physical early on for a friendly, with two Egyptian players — Tarek Hamed and Ahmed Fathy — picking up yellow cards in the first 10 minutes of play.

Lukaku opened the scoring for the home side in the 27th minute when he pounced on a ball that goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary had failed to corral and poked it home from close range.

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It was the 34th international goal for the 25-year-old Manchester United striker, who was already the Belgian national football team’s all-time leading scorer.

The second goal came 11 minutes later when Yannick Carrasco gained control of the ball near the end line and delivered a pass to Hazard, who scored his 22nd goal as a member of the Red Devils on a shot from the middle of the penalty box.

Despite making six second-half substitutions, the Belgians continued to dominate the action after the intermission and tallied their third goal during second-half injury time.

Two of those substitutes combined on the final score, with striker Michy Batshuayi maneuvering around Egyptian defender Ali Gabr and setting up Fellaini for an easy finish from just outside the goal area.

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Egypt was unable to generate much offence without Salah, a superstar forward for English Premier League (EPL) side Liverpool who suffered a shoulder injury after getting tangled up with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos during the first half of last month’s Champions League final.

Belgium has one more pre-World Cup friendly on tap versus Costa Rica on June 11, also at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

The European nation has been drawn into Group G in Russia and will play its first World Cup finals match on June 18 against Panama, followed by contests on June 23 against Tunisia and on June 28 versus England.

Egypt, for its part, has wrapped up its pre-World Cup friendlies and will next face Uruguay (June 15), hosts Russia (June 19) and Saudi Arabia (June 25) in Group A action at the World Cup.

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–IANS

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