A stunning Dries Mertens volley in the second half, followed by a Romelu Lukaku brace, gave Belgium the spark they needed to beat Panama by the large margin that was expected of them in the first clash of Group G.
Belgium will be happy to win their first game of the tournament and get off to a flying start, whereas Panama will be happy they managed to keep the scoreline at 3-0.
Here’s a few of things we can learn from the game:
4. Lukaku Will Cause Problems in This Tournament
Manchester United fans will be pleased to see that their main striker has managed to grab a couple of goals already in this World Cup.
Despite what the scoreline suggests, this was a game in which few chances, and due to this – particularly in the first half – Lukaku struggled to make an impact in as Belgium found it difficult to find the breakthrough they needed.
When the striker was provided with chances, however, he finished them clinically and managed to cause a number of problems for the Panamanian defence.
3. Panama Might Be Everyone’s Favourite Team
With the arrival of Panama and their first game comes a huge amount of enthusiasm, which is pivotal to making the World Cup a special, global event.
Despite being against all the odds and having to face a world class Belgium squad, the support for the Central American underdogs was wonderful to see.
The passion with which the players sang the national anthem, along with the work rate which they displayed to keep the scoreline at 0-0 for as long as they did, means that they have the potential to be everyone’s favourite World Cup minnows.
2. Belgium Need to Play Better Against Stronger Opposition
As Belgium struggled for ideas against a very average Panama side, questions were asked of whether or not the players had a game plan, or if they were even working as a team.
The European side, who are expected to do well in Russia and are considered by many to be a dark horse, looked like a team of individuals as they struggled to string together passes and break down the opposition’s defence.
The result was more likely due to the weakness and naivety of Panama rather than the strengths of Belgium, and Martinez will be worried about how his lacklustre side will perform against Tunisia and England.
1. Panama Have the Ability to Cause a Shock in This Group
It is unlikely that Panama will find themselves in the last 16 of this World Cup. However, they are capable of a shock result – they beat Costa Rica 2-1 in the game that got them to this World Cup.
They had been yet to face any serious opposition, however, until facing Belgium. Some of their players did cause the star studded Belgian side problems.
Their captain, Torres, looked comfortable in defence and the young winger Rodriguez caused plenty of problems down the left-hand side. The Panama goalkeeper had a promising game, managing to keep both Hazard and Mertens at bay in the first half.
Panama had a couple of shots on goal which would have caused serious problems had Courtois not been alert. Don’t dismiss this team just yet.
Some of the things we can learn from Belgium’s 3-0 win against Panama, which saw goals from Mertens and Lukaku.