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  • June 1, 2014
  • • 19:30
  • • Friends Arena, Solna
  • Referee: M. Clattenburg
  • • Attendance: 24732

Sweden 0-2 Belgium: Hazard answers doubters in comfortable win

Sweden 0-2 Belgium: Hazard answers doubters in comfortable win

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Concerns over a knee injury the Chelsea man has been carrying were brushed aside as he steered his country to victory, after Lukaku grabbed the opener

Eden Hazard quelled doubts over his fitness by scoring in Belgium's 2-0 win over Sweden on Sunday.

A knee injury had meant Hazard was doubtful for the contest at Solna's Friends Arena, causing some concern for Belgium supporters with their World Cup opener against Algeria just over two weeks away.

But the Chelsea winger put those worries aside, his 79th-minute strike adding to Romelu Lukaku's effort as Marc Wilmots' claimed a solid victory.

Hazard was withdrawn immediately after his goal, with Wilmots no doubt relieved to see his star man come through unscathed, and prove he had an eye for goal.

The head coach would also have taken great heart from Lukaku's goal, as he found the net with a stunning controlled finish from range to follow up his hat-trick against Luxembourg earlier this week.

A complete performance against a worthy Sweden side - albeit one without star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was on the bench - was capped by a clean sheet, with skipper Vincent Kompany immense throughout.

The hosts - who failed in their efforts to qualify for the World Cup when beaten by Portugal in a memorable play-off - initially enjoyed the upper hand, almost taking the lead when Erkan Zengin side-footed just over the crossbar.

Yet Belgium responded well and began attacking with purpose. They came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock when Kevin De Bruyne's precise curling effort rattled the goal frame.

It was all one-way traffic thereafter, with Kompany narrowly volleying over after meeting Dries Mertens' corner.

Belgium did not have to wait much longer for an opener, Lukaku collecting 25 yards from goal, curling a powerfully beyond Andreas Isaksson.

It was only thanks to a superb stop from Isaksson that Sweden did not find themselves 2-0 down, the ‘keeper getting down low to keep out Daniel Van Buyten's point-blank header, Mertens again the provider with a deep cross.

Any favour Mertens had gained with Wilmots from this contributions was almost extinguished moments later, the winger fortunate to stay on the pitch following a rash two-footed lunge.

Perhaps spurred on by a sense of injustice, Sweden pressed forward at the end of the half, but were found wanting with their final ball against a resolute Belgian defence.

Sweden were unable to carry that momentum into the second period as Kompany again just missed the target from a Mertens set-piece.

Unwilling to give up, Erik Hamren's showed some attacking intent of their own, indeed, Thibaut Courtois' goal was under siege for long periods towards the end, Jimmy Durmaz hitting the woodwork with a vicious strike.

But any hopes Sweden had of getting something from the game were extinguished when Hazard slid beyond Isaksson late on for the clinching goal.