Belgium national team manager Marc Wilmots said star wringer Eden Hazard was fortunate to avoid being substituted after the player’s uninspiring performance against Cyprus on Sunday.
Hazard, the reigning PFA and Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year, scored a late winner in the Cypriotic capital as Belgium defeated the hosts 1-0 to inch closer to Euro 2016 qualification.
“A year ago I think I would have taken him off,” Wilmots told Belgian TV station RTBF.
“But now he’s growing more and more in terms of maturity and importance. You can’t blame him for trying things. Maybe he tries to force things too much individually — it happens sometimes.
“I think the fact he was there to make it 1-0 was the only thing that saved his match today. But he knows it — you don’t have to say it to him.
“He’s not in great form at Chelsea at the moment either so he’ll grow during the season. He was decisive today and that’s important all the same.”
Regarding the team performances, new Manchester City signing Kevin de Bruyne added: “It was bad today. I think it was the worst performance since I’ve been playing with the national team. In the end, we can be happy that we won it.”
Hazard, 24, has tallied one assist in 4 English Premier League appearances for Chelsea this season.
Lavezzi set for PSG exit
Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi has revealed he expects to leave the Parc des Princes next summer.
The Argentina international, who joined PSG from Napoli for €26.5 million in the summer of 2012, has started one out of the French champions’ first four Ligue 1 fixtures this season, with compatriot Angel di Maria and Lucas Moura ahead of the Argentine in Laurent Blanc’s pecking order.
Lavezzi, 30, could have decided to leave the French capital this summer following the arrival of Di Maria from Manchester United but the 30-year-old opted to stay another 12 months to win more trophies, and rightly so.
“I think that this will be my last year with Paris Saint-Germain and I want to end it in the best way possible,” Lavezzi told Telefoot.
“I could have left this summer, but I wanted to stay because I believe in this team. I have had some difficulties to get into the team, but the competition for places motivates me. Some important players have arrived and the team is even stronger than last year.”