Romelu Lukaku struck twice as Belgium beat Russia 3-0. (Photo: UEFA Euro 2020)
Romelu Lukaku struck twice as Belgium confirmed their status as one of the favourites for Euro 2020 with a confident 3-0 victory over Russia on Saturday (June 12).
Despite being without key performer Kevin De Bruyne, world number one ranked Belgium were rarely in trouble against a Russia side that struggled to impose themselves.
Roberto Martinez's Belgium top Group B on three points, ahead on goal difference of Finland who beat Denmark in the group's other game in Copenhagen.
The Red Devils are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions and have suffered just one defeat in their last 24 outings. They have also scored in each of their last 31 games.
The visitor's grabbed the lead in the 10th minute when Andrei Semyonov failed to deal with a ball into the box from Leander Dendoncker, and Lukaku turned and fired into the bottom corner.
Lukaku celebrated his goal by running to the television camera and shouting "Chris, Chris, I love you" in tribute to Christian Eriksen, the Danish midfielder and his club team-mate at Inter Milan, who had been rushed to hospital after collapsing during the earlier game in the group.
Belgium were calm in possession and finding plenty of time and space against a Russia side who struggled to get a firm grip on the game.
The Russians reached the quarter-finals in the World Cup they hosted in 2018 but the energy of those performances was missing, despite playing at home in front of more than 26,000 fans.
Stanislav Cherchesov struggled to find either the tempo to their attacks or a way to provide quality service to striker Artem Dzyuba who was too often left isolated.
It was no surprise when the second goal came, in the 34th minute, when Russia keeper Anton Shunin could only parry Thorgan Hazard's shot towards Thomas Meunier, who made no mistake.
Russia applied some pressure after the interval but the Beligans coped without too much panic and the game already felt decided before Lukaku wrapped up the win with a well-taken effort after racing on to a through ball from Meunier.
Belgium go to the top of the group standings, ahead on goal difference from Finland, who upset Denmark 1-0 in Copenhagen earlier on the same day.
* Striker Kieffer Moore headed in an equaliser from one of Wales' few chances as the surprise 2016 semi-finalists snatched a 1-1 draw against wasteful Switzerland in their European Championship Group A clash at the Baku Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Italy lead the group after their impressive 3-0 victory over Turkey in the tournament opener on Friday and will host the Swiss in Rome in their second game on Wednesday. Wales stay in the Azerbaijan capital to face the Turks on the same day.
- Lukaku leads Inter into Europa League semi-finals
- Euro 2020 predictions Who will the finals best players
- UEFA EURO 2020 match schedule fixtures venues and 2021 tournament
- Watch Euro 2020 in Vietnam TV Channels Schedule Fixture Kick off Time Live Stream
- Sevilla beat Inter 3-2 to lift sixth Europa League title
- Oldest, youngest, most capped - all the numbers for Euro 2020
- Europa League Sevilla wins the sixth crown after defeating Inter Milan 3 2
- Euro 2020 Denmark vs Finland Preview predictions team news betting tips odds
- Vietnam youth football center nets new technical director