Eden Hazard said he told Romelu Lukaku to stop hiding after the first half of Belgium’s victory over Panama in the teams’ World Cup opener on Monday.
Lukaku scored two goals, one in the 69th minute and another in the 75th, in the 3-0 victory, and Hazard said that he hopes Lukaku understands the impact he can have for his team.
“At half-time, I told him we needed him,” Hazard told reporters after the game. “He’d been hiding out a bit up front.
“It’s not easy playing with a man missing. But once he got in there, involved in the game, like magic, he scored two.”
Hazard’s talk, along with Jan Vertonghen shouting at Yannick Carrasco, fuelled suggestions that Belgium were again being torn apart by infighting.
But coach Roberto Martinez played down that discussion and said that any criticisms players have of each other can be beneficial when addressed in person.
“My team can share views,” Martinez said. “Any sort of negative word between the players … is not a type of attitude that we have.
“Of course, we want to demand [more] from each other, and that’s natural. [That’s] what happens in a dressing room.”
Hazard, meanwhile, was also asked to do more for Belgium, though the demand came from Chelsea teammate Cesc Fabregas.
Working as an analyst for the BBC after being left out of Spain’s World Cup squad, Fabregas said Hazard should, at times, be more selfish and “just go for it.”
“I understand if it’s two against two and I am the one with the ball, it’s normal that I try to make the pass because I don’t have the same qualities of dribbling and the speed of Eden,” Fabregas told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“But I tell him sometimes, jokingly, ‘If I had your physical abilities, I would be scoring like 40 goals a season because you can go past everyone. I cannot do it. I cannot do it. I have to play football in a different way than you, but you have this big strength, the talent — you have everything.'”