Hazard offers Lukaku support

  • Last Updated: June 23 2014, 18:14 BST

Eden Hazard says he has tried to convince Romelu Lukaku that he is a key part of the Belgium team despite the Everton forward's dismal start to the World Cup.

Eden Hazard (right): Set up Belgium's goal against Russia
Eden Hazard (right): Set up Belgium's goal against Russia

Lukaku has started both of Belgium's games but has had a limited impact and looked bitterly disappointed when he was substituted against Russia after 57 minutes.

The 21-year-old's statistics do not make pretty reading either - in the two matches against Algeria and Russia he has only one shot, did not make a single dribble or tackle, and made the lowest number of passes of anyone in the Belgium team.

After the 1-0 win over Russia that clinched qualification for the knockout round, Chelsea midfielder Hazard said: "Lukaku has not been able to have much possession of the ball and he did not have much space at all and that's what I told him in the dressing room, but I told him he contributed to the victory."

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said he understood Lukaku's reaction to being substituted.

Wilmots added: "If he has to go off after 55 minutes or so he's not happy of course, that's natural. It's not a problem, it's normal and it happened to me as well.

"I understand his reaction completely and I will analyse things with him, but I need all my players and the truth of today is not always the truth of tomorrow."

Lukaku was replaced by 19-year-old Lille forward Divock Origi, who scored the winner two minutes from time to become the youngest World Cup goalscorer since Lionel Messi in 2006.

Wilmots admitted Divock's inclusion in the squad - he was brought in after Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke's injury - was a surprise to many but that he had already fitted in well.

He added: "Without Benteke's injury he would not be here, that's true, but I have followed his progress in the last four months and got a picture of a young player who is disciplined and fast. And because nobody knew him when I first played him that caused a surprise.

"He has integrated into the team well, he has technical skills, a lot of ability. He's quick and when the opposing defence gets tired he is very good."