Romelu Lukaku was captured destroying a dugout at the World Cup in Qatar after a lacklustre display for Belgium that saw his country suffer a shock exit from the tournament. Lukaku squandered a number of glorious opportunities for the No.2-ranked Belgians as they could only manage a 0-0 draw with Croatia that saw them finish third in Group F.
Morocco were the surprise winners of the group, sealing top spot courtesy of a 2-1 win over Canada that sets up a last-16 showdown with Group E runner-up Spain. The Spaniards progressed to the round of 16 despite a controversial 2-1 loss to Japan, courtesy of their superior goal record to Germany, whose 4-2 victory over Costa Rica proved inconsequential.
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Germany's devastation was shared by Belgium, who must have thought they'd done enough to score a win against Croatia that would have sent them into the knockout phase. The Belgians created more than enough clear-cut opportunities to win the game but sadly for the team and Lukaku in particular, the big striker couldn't conjure the decisive goal.
The Inter Milan striker has been battling injury that's left him short on form, fitness and confidence and it showed as the halftime substitute missed five decent chances to score, including at least two that he won't want to watch again. Viewers described it as a "horror show" from Lukaku, with many sympathising with the forward after watching the "awful" scenes unfold.
Arguably the best of Lukaku's chances came in stoppage time when Thorgan Hazard's cross fell to him at the back post, but the big striker could only get his midriff on the ball just two metres out from goal. The tame effort bounced back across the front of the goal and was gathered by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
Lukaku had earlier hit the inside of the post with the goal virtually at his mercy and also headed over the top, following a delightful cross from Kevin De Bruyne. After the game he was seen sobbing in the arms of Belgium assistant coach Thierry Henry, before punching the side of the dugout as he walked off after the final whistle, knocking the plexiglass screen out of place.
Belgium, Germany suffer shock World Cup exits
"We could have won this game by three goals and we'd be walking away feeling very different," said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, who later quit his role in the wake of the disappointment.
"I thought (Lukaku) moved very well, got in great situations, and what was missing was the finish. It was the difference between hitting the post and going in, and hitting the post and going out."
Croatia, the 2018 runner-up led by Luka Modric, will attempt to make another deep run at the World Cup after also reaching the semifinals in 1998. The Croats will next play Japan on Tuesday (AEDT), with Group F winners Morocco taking on Spain the following day.
"This is a team mix of experience and youth," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, who added of Belgium: "We were lucky that they didn't take their chances."
Germany's own shock exit came despite a 4-2 win over Costa Rica that saw Serge Gnabry's 10th minute opener cancelled out by goals from Costa Rican duo Yeltsin Tejeda and Juan Pablo Vargas. A Kai Havertz brace put the Germans back in front, before fellow substitute Niclas Fuellkrug added a fourth in stoppage time. Germany ended up equal on points but third in the group behind Spain, whose 7-0 win over Costa Rica in the first group game gave them a far superior goal difference.
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