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- Romelu Lukaku’s dummy play to set up Belgium’s game-winning goal over Japan was one of the best plays of the 2018 World Cup.
- Lukaku explained to Business Insider how he knew he needed to create space for his teammates and how he made subtle eye contact with another Belgian player to set up the goal.
- Lukaku said that despite not touching the ball on the play, it was among the best plays of his career.
Down 0-2, Belgium came roaring back, scoring two goals in the second half to draw level ahead of stoppage time.
In the 94th minute, Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne led one final counterattack, relentlessly pushing the ball up the field. After Thomas Meunier got the ball on the right wing, Belgium had a three-on-two – that’s when star striker Romelu Lukaku made one of the most brilliant plays of the World Cup.
As Meunier crossed the ball, Lukaku made a hard charge, drawing a defender with him. Rather than strike his shot, Lukaku let the ball pass right by him, setting up Nacer Chadli for an easy, game-winning shot. A perfectly executed dummy.
“When I ran to the ball, when the defender was coming for me, I said, like, ‘If I shoot myself, it will be a bigger chance that I miss, because [the defender] might get a block,'” Lukaku told Business Insider. “Because it was crowded and stuff like that. So if I let it run, it’s an open tap-in. So when I let it run … I was like, ‘Goal!'”
We dare you to find a better counterattack!
Chadli finishes off a beautiful team play to give Belgium the win late in stoppage time. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/lbUxZDzG0E
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 2, 2018
The unspoken chemistry between players shines on such plays. Lukaku said that when the counterattack began, he knew he could not do a typical run because it wouldn’t open up the necessary space to produce a good look.
“As soon as I came inside, I just dragged the defender with me – we created a three-versus-two, because then one player is free and two are with the marker,” he said. “So when someone has a run with the ball, the defender obviously has to make a choice, or else he lets our right wing back go to the ball and shoot.”
Furthermore, Lukaku said, just before the dummy he made eye contact with Chadli to let him know he would make the play. You can see the moment where Lukaku looked back.
- Fox Soccer/Twitter
“Like 10 yards before we get into the box, you see me looking,” Lukaku said, adding: “I see him running – I said, like, ‘You’re in a better position than me. Go and finish it.’ So I let him run.”
Lukaku has had plenty of goals and assists in his career – could a play where he didn’t touch the ball rank among his best? He was honest.
“It does, but I didn’t get the assist for the goal though,” he said, laughing. “I still want to have the stats. But yeah, it does. It does.”