Inter striker Romelu Lukaku’s impact for Belgium in yesterday’s do-or-die World Cup group stage clash with Croatia was unfortunately blunted by a combination of a lack of fitness and wastefulness in front of goal.
This is the view in today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, via FCInte1908, who argue that the Nerazzurri striker looked a shadow of himself and was powerless to prevent the Red Devils from suffering a disappointing early exit from the competition.
Lukaku’s arrival on the pitch during the second half of yesterday evening’s match against Croatia looked like a last chance saloon moment for Belgium.
The Red Devils needed a win to progress to the round of sixteen, and for this they needed a goal.
Belgium coach decided to throw on Lukaku, a player who has undeniably been talismanic for Belgium for many years, but whose fitness and form were a major doubt coming into the match.
Unfortunately for Lukaku and for Belgium, it was the lingering effects of injury and a lack of match-sharpness that were on full display rather than the qualities that have made him such an important player for both club and country.
Lukaku failed to find the back of the net despite a few very good chances to do so, and in the end he and his national teammates will have to reflect on a lost opportunity to make an impact in Qatar.