Hazard can’t wait for Wales in quarters

Toulouse (France) (AFP) – Chelsea star Eden Hazard said Belgium are hoping to keep the Euro 2016 party going with a win over Wales in Lille on Friday but said their 4-0 rout of Hungary will be hard to beat.

In an impressive man-of-the-match performance Hazard hit his maiden goal of the tournament as the Red Devils proved far too hot to handle for an outclassed Hungary side.

While they limp out of their first major finals in three decades with good memories of winning Group F and making the last 16, Belgium’s hopes for their first final since 1980 are growing. 

Hazard can’t wait to play in Lille, a northern French city close to the Belgian border where he starred for four seasons before moving to England.

But he said: “Doing better than tonight would be difficult, I think. Everything was almost perfect. We scored goals, we created a lot of chances, we helped Thibaut (Courtois) keep a clean sheet.

“All in all it was a great night, but we made it easy for ourselves. We created a lot of chances from the start.

“In the second half we killed off the match. To do better will be hard. But we’ll try.”

A dominant Belgium go into the European Championship quarter-finals for the first time since losing the 1980 final, but now have to beat an impressive Wales side if they are to make the last four.

Going on this performance, Belgium will fancy their chances although Hazard admitted Wales, and their Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale, could be “complicated”.

“They’re a complicated side to play against. We played them in the qualifiers, we haven’t beaten them I don’t think,” he added.

“They’re quite a compact side with a star player up front (Bale) so we’re going to have to study them well and try to do our best to win this match.”

– ‘Done nothing yet’ –

Almost from kick-off, Hungary ‘keeper Gabor Kiraly was kept busy as Romelu Lukaku, then Kevin De Bruyne, after Hazard’s superb delivery, tested the goalkeeper.

When Adam Lang hauled De Bruyne to the ground on the left flank, the Manchester City midfielder sent in a superb inswinging free-kick that Toby Alderweireld headed past Kiraly at his back post. 

Belgium spurned a host of chances in the opening half but responded to a brief Hungary fightback after the interval in style.

Michy Batshuayi, with his first touch as a substitute, Hazard and Yannick Carrasco scored in the last 12 minutes to wrap up a well-deserved win in what was the final Euro 2016 match in Toulouse.

Coach Marc Wilmots was cautious. “We’re into the quarter-finals, but we’ve done nothing yet,” said the Belgian, who will be without defender Thomas Vermaelen after he picked up a yellow card to trigger a one-match suspension.

Hazard, meanwhile, said he can’t wait to play in Lille: “I know Lille well, although I’ve never played at the stadium. It’s a matter of personal pride for me and I made it a goal of mine before this game.

“I know there will be a lot of supporters from Belgium there and I hope Friday we’ll have a big party there as well. I hope we have a good match.”

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