Roberto Martinez opted to switch from a back three to a back four, with Kevin De Bruyne pushed into the centre-forward role usually occupied by Lukaku and flanked by Eden Hazard on the left and Manchester United’s leading marksman on the right.
Despite the marked change from their last-gasp 3-2 victory against Japan, Lukaku was perfectly comfortable with the different demands placed on him, having played the same role under Martinez at Everton.
“I knew perfectly what to do,” Lukaku said, as reported by Sporza.
“I helped Hazard and De Bruyne and explained to them how to stand and what was to happen. Explaining once was enough. We executed the plan perfectly and earned the victory.”
⚽️ De Bruyne
High-five. 🖐 pic.twitter.com/fwS8Io9gnl
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 6, 2018
After a fast start to the tournament in which he scored four times in the opening two matches against Panama and Tunisia, Lukaku has yet to find the back of the net during the knockout stages.
However, he played a crucial part in the goal to put Belgium two ahead against the five-time World Cup winners.
After dancing past a few challenges, the 25-year-old slipped a measured ball through to De Bruyne, who arrowed his effort brilliantly beyond Alisson’s grasp on 31 minutes.
“My all-round game is always my strongest point,” Lukaku continued. “I’m trying to make other players better. I want to score as much as possible and also provide as many assists as possible. I’m doing well for the squad.”
Brazil had 17 shots in the second half as they threw everything at the Red Devils. However, Renato Augusto’s effort was all they had to show for their territorial dominance.
Belgium now look forward to a World Cup semi-final for the first time in 32 years, with France the opponents in what is set to be a mouth-watering encounter.
“From Sunday we look forward to the semi-finals,” Lukaku said. “France is a very difficult opponent, but we will need little motivation.”