Football

Published: Tuesday May 27, 2014 MYT 5:47:39 AM
Updated: Tuesday May 27, 2014 MYT 5:48:38 AM

Lukaku hits hat-trick as Belgium beat Luxembourg 5-1

GENK Belgium (Reuters) - Belgium won for the first time in five matches on Monday with a Romelu Lukaku hat-trick securing a 5-1 friendly win over a Luxembourg side ranked 100 places below them.

Three weeks before their World Cup opener, Belgium showed off the neat passing that has prompted many to tip them to do well in Brazil and also blooded three debutants, including 19-year-old Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj.

However, the defensive lapse that allowed a Luxembourg equaliser will encourageRomelu Lukaku World Cup rivals Algeria, Russia and South Korea that they can upset the Group H favourites.

"I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but it was the first game in three weeks. I wasn't so happy with organisation in the first half," said coach Marc Wilmots.

"We had a reaction in the second half. We were perhaps a bit nonchalant. But we still have three weeks to go."

A catalogue of keeper injuries and the absence of number one Thibaut Courtois, recovering from Saturday's Champions League final, meant a first cap for Sammy Bossut, one of only three squad members still playing in Belgium.

Otherwise, Belgium, set to play in their first World Cup since 2002, began with a line-up that may well start their tournament opener against Algeria on June 17.

When Lukaku struck in the third minute it looked like being a very tough night for the visitors, but 10 minutes later they equalised when Aurelien Joachim, who plays for Dutch side RKC Waalwijk, span off Thomas Vermaelen and fired in.

It was perhaps the wake-up call a slightly sleepy Belgium required, allowing Lukaku to score his first international hat-trick. He had the doggedness of Marouane Fellaini to thank for his opener, a failed Luxembourg clearance for his second, while he dribbled through the defence for his third.

Belgium brought on five substitutes at half-time, giving a debut to Januzaj, who only declared his allegiance to Belgium a month ago. Lille's Divock Origi, another uncapped teenager in the squad, replaced Lukaku on the hour mark.

Substitute Nacer Chadli scored Belgium's fourth while Kevin De Bruyne converted a 91st minute penalty.

Belgium will fly to Stockholm on Tuesday for a training camp ending with a friendly against Sweden on Sunday in which Wilmots said he would try to simulate more of a World Cup feel with fewer substitutes.

After a few days at the Belgian coast, they play a warm-up match against Tunisia in Brussels before boarding their plane to Sao Paolo on June 10 and a match behind closed door against the United States two days later.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Martyn Herman)

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