Belgium cruised to a 3-0 victory over Russia to get their Euro 2020 Group B campaign off to a flying start in Saint-Petersburg.
After Christian Eriksen was sent to hospital having collapsed on the pitch for Denmark against Finland just hours earlier, there were initial fears the game would be in doubt. But it went ahead and Belgium remained professional.
The world’s top FIFA-ranked side soon found their rhythm and took the lead after 10 minutes. Romelu Lukaku finished emphatically despite being stood in an offside position after Andrey Semenov’s touch during a failed position allowed the goal to stand. Lukaku took the moment to send a message to Inter teammate Eriksen.
Russia almost hit back immediately through Magomed Ozdoev, who fired wide after Artem Dzyuba held up Mario Fernandes’ cross, before Leander Dendoncker spurned a chance at the other end.
After clashing heads just before the half-hour mark, Thomas Castagne and Daler Kuzyaev were withdrawn. Castagne’s replacement Thomas Meunier then made it 2-0 after reacting to Anton Shunin’s parry from Thorgan Hazard’s pinpoint cross.
Yannick Carrasco could have added a third in stoppage time after brilliantly evading challenges on the edge of the area and firing over, but Belgium were well in control at the break.
Having struggled to utilise captain Dzyuba’s 6’8 frame in the first half, Russia finally began to exude some pressure after halftime. Karavaev’s cross evaded him before Carrasco failed to connect with Lukaku moments later.
With just under 20 minutes remaining, Eden Hazard, who has struggled for form and fitness at Real Madrid, was summoned as Roberto Martinez’s side looked to close the game out.
Lukaku laid down the gauntlet to his Golden Boot rivals with just two minutes remaining, latching onto Meunier’s pass to power past Shunin.