Football

Belgium coach Wilmots: Lay off Lukaku

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has defended under-fire striker Romelu Lukaku ahead of their Euro 2016 quarter-final against Wales on Saturday morning (Singapore time).

Lukaku (above) bagged a brace in Belgium's 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland, but has otherwise failed to score at this tournament.

In Sunday's 4-0 thrashing of Hungary in the Round of 16, the Everton forward was replaced near the end by Michy Batshuayi.

Batshuayi, 22, who looked set to join Chelsea, scored just two minutes after coming on.

"Romelu moves a lot. All (goalkeeper Thibaut) Courtois' clearances come to him. Against Hungary, he won every ball in the air," Wilmots said.

"He runs all the time and tires out defences, creates space for others. Believe me, defenders, when they are up against him, are not laughing.

"Against Hungary, he was off the mark with one lay-off. One! He can't get away with the slightest mistake. Everything he does has to come off."

HAZARD RESTED

Belgium captain Eden Hazard did not train on Tuesday, after feeling slight pain in his thigh after the Hungary game, but Wilmots allayed fears over his fitness for the quarter-final at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, just 10km away from the Belgian border.

"He is in the hands of the physios and he will return to training on Thursday. He will be 
100 per cent fine, no problem."

The Red Devils, however, will be without the suspended Thomas Vermaelen against Wales, so Jason Denayer of Manchester City could start in central defence.

Meanwhile, Wilmots suggested his side will take the game to the Welsh, who were unbeaten against them during the Euro qualifiers.

He said: "Wales will sit back and wait for us with five defenders. We could also wait and see how they will react, but that's not part of 
our philosophy.

"We have to be calm and patient. We have to take our game to Wales and try to pierce their defence." - Wire Services.

FootballEuro 2016europeRomelu Lukaku