“Let that be a lesson. You don’t play around with a boy who’s hungry”

These were Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku’s words as he recently documented his moving life story of struggle, grit, guts, audacity, and the glory that came with it.

Two games later, one of Lukaku’s promises – to become his country’s greatest player – is steadily gathering steam in Russia. And the records continued to tumble as he walked onto the Spartak Stadium. The Manchester United striker became the joint-top scorer for Belgium in World Cup history and is the owner of slew of other national records.

At 25, he is already the Red Devils’ all-time top-scorer by some distance, and on his day, he looks like he’s chewing and spitting out defences for fun. It was no different against Panama and Tunisia, two hapless opponents who were on the receiving end of a finishing masterclass by the gangly striker.

Becoming the joint top-scorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and setting the pace early might be one thing, but what has stood out with Lukaku is his contribution during the build-up and the striker’s greed to get into goalscoring positions, and burying it when he has a sniff.

As for his critics pinning down Lukaku’s abilities solely as a battering ram, the former Chelsea and Everton man has shown a finesse not commonly associated with him. In both games so far, Lukaku was imperious from a one-on-one situation, dinking the ball into the net to get the better of the onrushing goalkeeper.

What should worry Belgium’s opponents more is the telepathic understanding between him and skipper Eden Hazard. The hapless Tunisian defence, who were generous with offering space, witnessed the playmaker and Lukaku carve the defence open and regularly raid the final third with ease.

Add Kevin de Bruyne in the mix – someone who has been relegated to shadows (despite that wonderful ball to Hazard against Tunisia) so far courtesy of the imperious Lukaku and Hazard – linking-up play and slipping in balls that a striker can only dream of.

The World Cup got its first goal-fest. This, despite substitute Michy Batshuayi missing a host of chances before scoring his side’s fifth. Hailed as the golden generation of Belgium, Lukaku and Hazard are leading the line as the men in red chase their first World Cup success.

While Batshuayi showed what it was to be wasteful up front, the Belgium No 9 has been an example of making the most of what was offered to him – a cue from his own life perhaps. His four goals have come from just five shots on target.

This latest demolition job by Belgium is the reason why they have been given the tag of dark horses for the last three big tournaments they have been a part of. Give them a hint of space, and they will punish you at will. The Premier League heavyweights in their forward line also have the reliable Dries Mertens to fall back on for support.

Untested Red Devils

The irresistible forward line have been on a roll for a while now; their last major defeat came way back in 2016. The qualifiers turned out to be a stroll in the park for Roberto Martinez’s men and have continued to live up to their billing of the attacking galacticos of national teams. Belgium being the joint top-scorers in the tournament should also not surprise onlookers.

But there is a belief that Belgium are still untested. Since crashing out against Wales in the quarter-finals, Belgium have failed to register wins against Spain and Portugal, and scampered to a win against Mexico. Showing bottle in key moments and getting the better of some of bigger and more illustrious names in world football is the next step for his talent-rich team.

Their final round-robin game – against England – will provide a deeper insight into how Hazard, Lukaku and Co can measure up when up against an opposition of real pedigree. This is not to say that England have been world beaters in recent times either. Their shambolic big tournament record coincided with their own golden generation from the mid-2000s cut a cropper when push came to shove.

This is a feeling Lukaku would be all too familiar with. Even while representing club football’s Red Devils – the winning machine from Manchester – there have been a suggestions he is a flat-track bully who thrives on crushing meek teams.

Following the aforementioned tame exit against an inspired Wales side in the Euro quarter-finals, though, there have been changes, and that is not just limited to Belgium’s coaching staff alone. Hazard and Lukaku have had inspired seasons for club and country, and are older and better than the raw talents that took the field in Brazil four years ago.

The striker may well be rested for the mouth-watering clash against England after suffering a knock against the Tunisians.

But when he is back, expect Lukaku to relish the spotlight, and Hazard to work his magic. They have 34 goals and 15 assists in last 20 games they have played. It wouldn’t be a stretch do declare them as the most dangerous front-two in the world when on song. Defences, beware!