Belgium has shockingly been knocked out of the World Cup after a 0-0 draw against Croatia on Thursday, and Romelu Lukaku had a number of opportunities to prevent that.
The No. 2 ranked team in the world finished third in Group F of the competition. Croatia and Morocco advanced to the knockout stages from the group.
Following the disappointing match, Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry consoled star striker Romelu Lukaku. Henry is on the coaching staff for Belgium.
However, Lukaku’s mood quickly changed from sadness to frustration as he made his way to Belgium’s bench. The 29-year-old striker was seen screaming. Then, he punched out a plastic window that covered the dugout. Midfielder Youri Tielemans and an assistant Belgium coach attempted to comfort the star as he sat on the bench.
Lukaku’s time at the World Cup was certainly frustrating. Normally a mainstay in Roberto Martinez’s front line, the striker has been dealing with injuries for months now. In fact, he has only played five total matches for club Inter Milan so far during the current campaign.
Nagging hamstring and biceps injuries have forced the star to remain on the sidelines for much of the season. These setbacks have also obviously taken a toll on his international duties as well.
Lukaku not up to full fitness for Belgium at World Cup
Lukaku has only made one start for Belgium in over a year. His last competitive spot in a starting XI for Martinez was a UEFA Nations League fixture with the Netherlands in June. However, the striker only lasted 27 minutes before departing the match because of an injury.
These injuries hindered any chances of Lukaku making a start during the World Cup. Lukaku’s appearance on Thursday came as a substitute yet again. Despite coming on after the halftime break, the forward had five shots on goal against Croatia. He even hit the post at one point in the second half. Commentator Landon Donovan claimed that Lukaku could have had a hat trick in his cameo.
Nevertheless, the injured striker could not help take the ‘Golden Generation’ into the knockout rounds of the 2022 World Cup. The loss almost certainly ends any hopes of the group collecting a major trophy and also marks the likely end of Martinez’s reign with Belgium.
PHOTO: IMAGO / bildbyran
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