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Belgium send out signal to rest of Europe with stunning opening win

Belgium played Russia off the park this evening – winning 3-0.

Lukaku sends a message to Eriksen via TV.
Lukaku sends a message to Eriksen via TV.
Image: Anatoly Maltsev

FROM RUSSIA WITH love. Romelu Lukaku scored twice to help Belgium get their Euro campaign off to a winning start in St Petersburg. But it was not just on the pitch that he showed his class.

With his Inter team mate, Christian Eriksen, in hospital after his sudden collapse in the evening’s earlier game, Lukaku used his goal celebration to approach a TV camera and send a message of support to his friend.

Eden Hazard was left on the bench in St Petersburg and there was an unsavoury start when the Belgium players were booed as they took the knee before kick-off.

Lukaku was able to respond in the perfect fashion after 10 minutes when he put the number one ranked team in the world ahead.

Dries Mertens’ cross was not dealt with by Andrey Semenov and former Everton and Manchester United striker Lukaku fired the ball in with his left foot before he grabbed the pitchside camera saying, “Chris, I love you” in a message to team-mate Eriksen.

A nasty clash of heads between Timothy Castagne and Daler Kuzyaev resulted in both being substituted midway through the first half and it was the former’s replacement who made it 2-0.

Thorgan Hazard’s ball into the area was pushed out into a dangerous position by Russia goalkeeper Anton Shunin and substitute Meunier slotted home from 10 yards.

It had not been a good half for Stanislav Cherchesov’s team and he was forced into another change when former Chelsea player Yuri Zhirkov limped off before the break.

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Russia came out with more intent after the interval but despite using all five of their substitutions by the 63rd minute, including taking off Kuzyaev’s replacement Denis Chershev, Thibaut Courtois remained largely untroubled in the Belgian goal.

Captain Eden Hazard was able to play the final 18 minutes and there was time for the goalscorers to combine for a third.

Meunier played Lukaku through on goal and he drilled the ball low into the corner for his second of the night to ensure one of the favourites started on a positive note.

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