Belgium spoils Panama's World Cup debut with shutout victory

Belgium spoils Panama's World Cup debut with shutout victory

Where Belgium were top goal scorers, Panama qualified for the World Cup on a negative one goal difference with no Panama player scoring more than two goals. Panama will play their debut World Cup with no intentions of giving Belgium an easy win.

With Panama forced to throw more bodies forward, they were punished on the break a quarter of an hour from the end.

The Red Devils of Belgium are one of the title contenders this time around, with many experts picking them to go all the way.

If a rampaging qualifying campaign was a showcase of their talent, winning this group hands down would be their first objective in Russian Federation.

Belgium are now unbeaten in 20 matches, although the nature of the first-half performance against weak opposition showed that Martinez's men still have significant progress to make if they are to improve on quarter-final appearances at the last two major tournaments. With his squad selection exclusively based on the attacking nature of his side, Martinez will select a team likewise. "They have the best players in the world, except for Messi and Cristiano". De Bruyne stepped up from central midfield position to win balls effectively and there was no doubting the quality of his delivery on Lukaku's first strike.

Romelu Lukaku found the net three times over those two matches, whilst fellow attacking stars Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens were also among the goals. Panama fans everywhere belted out the anthem with unabashed joy, as if they had discovered a new favorite song. That proved to be as close as Panama got to making a game of it.

Panama lined up with a team of journeymen featuring five 30-somethings.

But the journey of this Panama team has been something special.

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Let's take a look at the Belgium vs. Panama betting lines.

- Each of the last 11 goals that Belgium have scored in World Cup matches have come after half-time.

Romelu Lukaku (2 right) of Belgium scores the 2-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group G preliminary round soccer match between Belgium and Panama in Sochi, Russia.

Panama boss, Hernan Gomez will, however, be managing his third World Cup with a third different team.

Panama pose relatively limited attacking threat and will be tasked primarily with attempting to absorb the pressure of Belgium's likely dominance and attacking force in the match. Martinez said the amount of hits Hazard took is a concern. Hazard even showed some grit to help keep the play alive for Mertens to score the critical first goal.

On paper this game should be a canter for Belgium. Roberto Martinez's Belgium now bear the pre-match billing of favourites to progress from their group, whilst their Central American opponents face an uphill battle to advance from Group G, which also contains England.

On the other hand, Belgium will have their focus fixed on the clash against England which could be a potential decider for the group victor later on.

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