Soccer

Lukaku leads Belgium past Sweden in World Cup tune-up

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The Canadian Press
6/1/2014 5:10:39 PM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Goals by Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard gave Belgium a 2-0 win over Sweden in a World Cup warm-up game Sunday.

After a slow start, the Belgians took advantage of a Swedish defensive mistake that allowed Axel Witsel to set up the Everton striker in the 34th minute.

Hazard easily rolled in the second goal in the 78th from a pass by Kevin De Bruyne.

"In the first 10 minutes of the match I felt we were a bit hesitant, they played a bit soft," Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said about his team. "Then they got five to six opportunities and they found a solution to get into the game."

Sweden, which played without injured star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, had its best chance in the 68th minute when Jimmy Durmaz hit the crossbar after a corner. Ibrahimovic decided to sit out the game just before the start citing back problems.

Expectations are high on Belgium's young team, with stars like Lukaku, Hazard and Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany, ahead of the World Cup. It is the country's first World Cup in 12 years, and it will play Russia, South Korea and Algeria in Group H.

Lukaku, who scored the two decisive goals against Croatia that sent Belgium to the World Cup, also scored a hat trick against Luxembourg on Monday.

The 21-year-old's position in the team has become much more important after Belgium's No. 1 Christian Benteke went down with an Achilles injury in April, and out of the World Cup.

Hazard said the atmosphere in the team is good ahead of the tournament.

"There are always things to work on but I think at the end of the day we kept a clean sheet and I think except for the first 15 minutes the organization of the team was good," he said.

Sweden failed to qualify for the World Cup after losing to Portugal in a playoff.

Romelu Lukaku (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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