Lukaku, Ronaldo chase Kane in Russia


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30 Jun 2018, 12:30 IST
Romelu Lukaku Cristiano Ronaldo Harry Kane - cropped
Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane are leading Golden Boot contenders

England’s Harry Kane leads the race for the World Cup Golden Boot going into the round of 16, hotly pursued by Romelu Lukaku of Belgium and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo.

On the final matchday of the group stage, Kane and Lukaku did not have the opportunity to add to their hauls of five and four strikes respectively in Russia. England coach Gareth Southgate and his Belgium counterpart Roberto Martinez afforded both centre-forwards a rest when the qualified teams met in Kaliningrad.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, sits near the top of the charts courtesy of his hat-trick against Spain and early winner versus Morocco, but missed a penalty against Iran to stay behind Kane.

Here, we run down the candidacy of the players with two goals or more to their name, who are still involved in the tournament.

HARRY KANE – FIVE GOALS

Kane is the only player on five, the Tottenham striker having plundered a hat-trick against sorry Panama to add to his brace in the opening win over Tunisia. 

Adding to his tally could well prove crucial to England’s hopes of negotiating a demanding round-of-16 tie with improving Colombia in Moscow. 

ROMELU LUKAKU, CRISTIANO RONALDO – FOUR GOALS

Lukaku has every chance of netting again in Rostov-on-Don when Belgium tackle a Japan side that looked shaky, particularly from set-pieces, in their draw with Senegal and 1-0 loss to eliminated Poland.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, will come up against two familiar foes as he looks to hit the back of the net in the knockout stages – Uruguay are likely to task Atletico Madrid centre-backs Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez with stopping the Real Madrid star in Sochi.

DIEGO COSTA, DENIS CHERYSHEV – THREE GOALS

Of the two players on three goals, Diego Costa and Denis Cheryshev, only one will be able to progress to the quarter-finals, with Spain set to face Russia in Moscow on Sunday.

A product of the Spanish academy system and a LaLiga player, Villarreal forward Cheryshev will know all about his opponents, but that may not help him to guide the hosts past the 2010 winners.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO, LUIS SUAREZ – TWO GOALS

Of the eight players on two goals still involved in the competition, three are centre-backs. England’s John Stones and Yerry Mina could still add to their tally, from set-pieces in particular, but are surely unlikely to catch the frontrunners and one will be eliminated after they meet in Moscow.

Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist is another scoring centre-half, but his two goals in Russia have each come from the penalty spot. Plus, he and Russia striker Artem Dzyuba represent sides who may be hard pressed to advance deep into the knockout stages.

Direct free-kicks or strikes from distance appear Luka Modric’s most likely route to goal for Croatia, while Eden Hazard will probably be more focused on setting up Lukaku.

That leaves Barcelona pair Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez as the arguably the players most likely to mount a goalscoring charge, depending on the fortunes of Brazil and Uruguay. 

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