Romelu Lukaku turned into Belgium’s savior again and became the nation’s all-time top scorer as he headed home for a 1-0 victory over Japan in a friendly on Tuesday.
A game between two teams bound for next year’s World Cup was decided in the 72nd minute, when Nacer Chadli weaved through the Japan defense and lobbed the ball into the goalmouth for Lukaku to head home.
The Manchester United striker’s header took him past Bernard Voorhoof who scored 30 goals for the Red Devils between 1928 and 1940.
Lukaku was already instrumental in qualifying Belgium for Russia and also scored a brace last weekend in a 3-3 draw with Mexico which took him level with Voorhoof.
Axel Witsel celebrates with Lukaku as he becomes Belgium’s all-time top goalscorer
|1. Romelu Lukaku||2010-||31|
|2. Bernard Voorhoof||1928-1940||30|
|2. Paul Van Himst||1960–1974||30|
|4. Joseph Mermans||1945–1956||28|
|4. Marc Wilmots||1990–2002||28|
|6. Robert De Veen||1906–1913||26|
|7. Wesley Sonck||2001–2010||24|
|8. Ray Braine||1925–1939||23|
|9. Marc Degryse||1984–1996||23|
|10. Jan Ceulemans||1976–1991||22|
Lukaku also lacked any presence up top until his goal as the 24-year-old could find a way past Eiji Kawashima in the Japan net.
Belgium had the first chance of the game as Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne could fire his shot straight at Kawashima, after a long run into Japan’s box.
De Bruyne continued to threaten the opposition as Japan’s number one had to be equal to the midfield-maestro’s long-range effort.
Despite Japan’s quiet start, Yuya Osako and Maya Yoshida both just headed over just before the break with each chance good enough to have broken the deadlock for the visitors.
Nacer Chadli’s brilliant run and cross provided the assist for Lukaku to break the deadlock
Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima pulled off several saves to keep his side in the match
BELGIUM: Mignolet; Kabasele, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne (Dembele 62), Witsel (Defour 84), Chadli (J. Lukaku 84); Hazard, Mertens (Mirallas 60), R. Lukaku (Origi 74)
SUBS NOT USED: Casteels (GK), Courtois (GK); Ciman, Dendoncker, Depoitre, Januzaj, Tielemans
GOALS: R. Lukaku 72
JAPAN: Kawashima; H. Sakai, Yoshida, Makino, Nagatomo; Nagasawa (Morioka 62), Asano (Kubo 68), Ideguchi, Yamaguchi, Haraguchi (Inui 78); Osako
SUBS NOT USED: Higashiguchi (GK), Nishikawa (GK); Endo, Hasebe, Koroki, Kurata, Kurumaya, Miura, G. Sakai, Shoji, Sugimoto
BOOKINGS: Ideguchi 75
COACH: Vahid Halilhodzic
REFEREE: Danny Makkelie
VENUE: Jan Breydel Stadium
Japan then began to impose themselves after the break as a handful of chances failed to hit the target.
Dries Mertens failed to make an impact in Bruges as Kevin Mirallas and Moussa Dembele both made cameos in the friendly.
West Brom winger Nacer Chadli’s moment of brilliance produced a header from Lukaku who headed home the goal’s only game.
Thorgan Hazard nearly doubled the lead but his strike was off target as Roberto Martinez’s side held out for the 1-0 win.
Kevin de Bruyne caused a lot of problems for Japan but couldn’t get past Kawashima