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Hazard hammered despite hitting winner

Eden Hazard’s late winner in Belgium’s 1-0 defeat of Cyprus was not enough to spare him the wrath of coach Marc Wilmots, who described the Chelsea man as his worst player on the night.

Hazard slammed home Dries Mertens’ cross late on in a dour game in Nicosia to all but confirm Belgium’s place at next the Euro 2016 finals, but Wilmots was less than impressed with his side’s laboured performance.

Wilmots singled Hazard out for criticism, saying: “He was the worst tonight.

“I thought about substituting him, but in the last 10 minutes he always the ability to do that. At the World Cup, this was the case.

“I obviously expect more from him, but he will grow as the season progresses.”

Wilmots praised Mertens and fellow substitute Divock Origi for turning the game in Belgium’s favour, but was less than impressed with the overall display, which came three days after a 3-1 home win over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He said: “The contribution of Origi and Mertens in the second half was important, because I wanted quick combinations. As a result, in the last half hour we were often dangerous.

“Collectively, this was one of our worst performances I do not know why.

“Maybe because we’re still early in the season and we cannot yet play at a high enough pace. Guys like Marouane Fellaini have little rhythm in the legs.”

He added: “We have to play two games in 72 hours, which is evident, especially in this heat.

“Moreover, everyone wants to win against us, and this also applies to Cyprus.”

Belgium now sit second in Group B, knowing victory over rock-bottom Andorra will send them to France.

Sun 6 Sep, 2015
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