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Belgium ‘can’t blame Lukaku’ for exit

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Belgium should not blame Romelu Lukaku for their World Cup exit despite the striker's misses in the goalless draw against Croatia which sealed their fate on Thursday, said Timothy Castagne.

Lukaku, Belgium's record goalscorer, had only played a handful of minutes in the tournament due to injury before coming on at half-time at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

The striker, on loan at Inter Milan from Chelsea, missed three gilt-edged chances late on when a goal would have sent his side into the last 16.

"I wouldn't say he's the anti-hero because he's there for the chances, he also creates them, he gives, he keeps the ball," defender Castagne told reporters.

"Maybe if he's not there, we don't have those chances. I don't think we can blame him, he gave everything, he tried. If it doesn't go in, it doesn't go in."

Belgium finished third in Group F on four points after also beating Canada 1-0 and losing 2-0 to Morocco.

Michy Batshuayi scored their only goal of the tournament against the Canadians but was not called upon on Thursday.

"Of course I'm disappointed, we're eliminated, we're out of the competition," he said.

"I'm a striker and I would have liked to do my job and score, help the team.

"It's disappointing to go out like that… Belgium had to play better. I'm not going to say that we don't deserve to be out, but we should have played better. Everything is disappointing."

Belgium coach Martinez quits

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said he was leaving his job on Thursday after his side were eliminated from the World Cup in Qatar.

The 49-year-old had been in charge since 2016 and his contract was due to run out after the tournament.

"That was my last game with the national team, I can't carry on," Martinez said at his post-match press conference. "It's the time for me to accept that this is the last game."

Martinez led Belgium to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals last year.

But his ageing side could not replicate that form in Qatar, crashing out after scoring just one goal in three games.

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