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World Cup: Belgium 3 - 0 Panama

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Group G debuted the World Cup tournament yesterday afternoon with the game between Belgium and Panama. 

Although it was the first time Panama qualified for the World Cup, they certainly made the Belgian players work during the first half. Indeed the Belgium team, ranked third in the FIFA ranking, might have players from top teams all over the world, but they started with great difficulty - losing the ball too much during passes, and missing out on great opportunity to score. 

Panama offered up repeated fouls against Belgian players, including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, who plays at Manchester United - rending the game as frustrating as possible for the Red Devils.

From seemingly not focussing on their game, the team woke up after Dries Mertens magnifienctly scored a one-time into the far corner of the net in the 48th minute. This reborn confidence from the Belgium team led to two more goals from Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, with assists from De Bruyne with the outside of his boot in the 69th minute and then Eden Hazard’s perfect pass after counter attack in the 75th minute. 

As Panama became more and more desperate to score, the Belgian defence was not as strong as manager Roberto Martinez would have wanted. Nevertheless, keeper Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) kept his net secure from several Panama’s attempt. 

This was very fortunate as De Bruyne got booked for a high kick in the stomach of Barcena's in the 89th minute. This could have a detrimental consequences as the midfielder is one of the strongest assets of the team, and could get a one-game suspension if given another yellow card before the semifinals. 

In the end, Panama only got six shots and three edge in corners while Belgium attempted 15 shots and got nine edges. The Belgium team succeed in the job even after a sloppy first half.

While favourites including Germany, Brazil and Argentina did not live up to the expectations, Belgium became the first World Cup favourite to (kind of) deliver a dominating performance. Although the game was the finest for the Belgian team, De Bruyne reminded us in an interview for Belgian TV that what matters is the end score. 

Still, Belgium will have to focus on their next game against an eager Tunisia, who will need a win after loosing against England in the last few minutes of the game. 

Belgian will face England for the last game of the first round next Thursday at 7pm.  

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