Brussels (AFP) – Belgium made light of injury to Eden Hazard in their last warm-up before the World Cup on Monday, the Chelsea star limping off in the 4-1 defeat of Costa Rica in Brussels.
Hazard was forced off in the 70th minute after an apparent knock to his right ankle as Belgium sparkled against their fellow finalists with a powerful brace from Romelu Lukaku.
While Red Devil fans will have looked on concerned Hazard’s teammates and manager dispelled fears of the injury having an impact on the 27-year-old Hazard’s World Cup.
“I’m not too worried about Eden, he’s a tough guy. He gets kicked all the time, but soon gets over it,” said Lukaku.
Dries Martens, who also got on the scoresheet, tapping in Hazard’s deflected shot, added: “Eden? We’ll see, he’s strong, I reckon he’ll be okay.”
And coach Roberto Martinez declared there was “nothing to worry about”.
“He’s very strong, he just had a dead leg towards the end of the match.”
“”I really enjoyed his performance. He was sharp and strong, he was majestic,” he told reporters.
Hazard’s brother, Belgium teammate Thorgan, told Belgian newspaper SudPresse: “It was a little knock. He’ll be fine. I have to say sorry as it was on one of my passes that it happened.”
SudPresse reported that Hazard boarded a private jet to London after the match with Belkium due to fly to Russia on Wednesday.
Martinez’s multi-talented side, missing injured defender Vincent Kompany, were just too much for Costa Rica, who opened brightly and even took the lead through Bryan Ruiz with a slick finish.
But Belgium, who beat Egypt 3-0 last week with a world-class Hazard pulling the strings, were 2-1 up by half-time thanks to finishes from Mertens and Lukaku.
The giant Manchester United target man got his second with a powerful header after running into space with great speed.
He then set up strike partner Michy Batshuayi for the fourth and the pair did a little dance to celebrate.
This will have proved unpleasant viewing for Belgium’s Group G rivals England, Tunisia and Panama, who they face in their opening game in Sochi next Monday.