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The diminutive winger felt Belgium benefited from his superior physical condition in their late win over Russia in Rio de Janeiro

By Jon Fisher at the Estadio Maracana

Eden Hazard has defended misfiring striker Romelu Lukaku after his Chelsea and Belgium team-mate drew a second blank of the World Cup against Russia.

The young striker came into the tournament hotly tipped to take home the Golden Boot, but he was substituted just after half-time for the second match in succession by Marc Wilmots.

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His replacement, Divock Origi, provided much more after his introduction, and after firing in a late winner could now be set to keep Lukaku out of the side moving forward.

But Hazard believes the former Everton loanee was unlucky as the Russia defenders gave him little freedom to operate.

"I think Origi and Romelu have different styles. Lukaku didn’t have the ball very much, it was complicated for him, he did not have much space," he told reporters.

"I think Divock took advantage of that. I think both players had something to do with the victory.”

Belgium's win mean they have now advanced to the knockout stages while Russia’s fate will be decided in the final round of matches in Group H.

Man of the match Hazard said: “I feel fit, I’m in good shape so I try to make the difference and often I make the difference at the end of the match so that shows I am still fresh.

“It was a complicated match but we are very happy with the result and the victory. We still have one match to go and we are qualified. We will try to get three wins in this qualification campaign.”

The former Lille man admitted it had not been a classic encounter but was delighted the Red Devils’ superior fitness had carried them through.

“We didn’t play a very good match. The last 10 minutes were good, that’s all. The substitutes we had were fresh and I guess the Russian defence was a bit tired and we had more space,” he added.
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