Lukaku double lifts mood in Belgium


Romelo Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku scored twice to earn Belgium a 2-1 victory over Switzerland in the Nations League on Friday, lifting the mood in the country after a week marred by match-fixing allegations.

Belgium’s second win in the group means they have won 11 of their last 12 matches, the only blemish being the World Cup semi-final defeat by France in July.

Lukaku broke the deadlock, just before the hour mark, finding himself unmarked on the right.

As Thomas Meunier set him up for a left-foot shot that squeezed under the body of Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

But the Belgian defence was caught ball watching with about 15 minutes left as Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick was headed back into the danger zone by Nico Elvedi.

He finished off from close range by substitute Mario Gavranovic.

Belgium defender, Vincent Kompany, went close with a headed opportunity from a corner and Lukaku blasted over from close range after being set up by a substitute, Nacer Chadli.

But the Manchester United striker made amends with the 84th-minute winner at the end of a flowing move.

The move involved captain Eden Hazard and a deft pass from Dries Mertens to set Lukaku up for another left-foot finish.

Lukaku’s double, which lifted him to 45 goals in 78 internationals, ensured a bright end to a bad week for Belgian football in which 19 people, including two referees, soccer agents and the coach of champions Club Bruges, were charged on Friday with fraud or match-fixing.

Belgium plays the Netherlands in a friendly in Brussels on Tuesday while the Swiss go to Iceland for their next Nations League game on Monday. (Reuters/NAN)