Belgium cruised to victory in their opening Group B clash of Euro 2020, beating Russia 3-0 in Saint Petersburg.
The Red Devils got off to the perfect start when Romelu Lukaku pounced on a defensive mix-up just ten minutes in, and the Inter star rifled home without a moment’s hesitation.
Thomas Meunier doubled the advantage on 34 minutes – capitalising on another defensive howler, this time from goalkeeper Anton Shunin – by slotting the ball into an unguarded net, before Yannick Carrasco worked an excellent opportunity for himself before firing over the bar.
Russia were able to stunt Belgium’s progress in the second half, but the damage was already done and Lukaku rubbed salt into the wounds in the dying minutes, stroking past Shunin to round off the scoring.
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Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 6/10 – Had little to do in the first half as the early goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Russia. Same goes for the second period.
Toby Alderweireld (CB) – 8/10 – Helped his team move up the pitch with some glorious cross-field passes. Produced the ball out wide to Hazard to begin the action for the second.
Dedryck Boyata (CB) – 7/10 – Held his own at the heart of the backline, providing the pace for the slower and older legs on either side of him.
Jan Vertonghen (CB) – 7/10 – Rarely tested by a miserable Russia attack in the first half, but looked a touch more stretched as the hosts began to push in the second period.
Timothy Castagne (RWB) – 6/10 – Started the game but had to be substituted off after half an hour following a nasty collision. A huge blow for the Leicester City star.
Leander Dendoncker (CM) – 7/10 – Broke up any sniff of a Russia attack in the first half, and kept it simple when in possession.
Youri Tielemans (CM) – 8/10 – A class act in the middle of the park, keeping the ball moving and always looking to carry Belgium over the halfway line and into the final third. A talented player.
Thorgan Hazard (LWB) – 8/10 – Toyed with the Russia defence, cutting in onto his favoured right foot and delivering some wicked crosses. Forced the mistake from the Russia goalkeeper for the second with his delivery.
Dries Mertens (RW) – 7/10 – Bright and dangerous out wide, albeit not in his favourite position. Less involved with so much play flowing down Belgium’s left.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – 8/10 – Typically clinical, capitalising on a horrendous defensive mixup to hammer the ball into the net. You cannot present him with chances like that. Stroked home his second and Belgium’s third with class.
Yannick Carrasco (LW) – 8/10 – Almost scored the best goal of the tournament so far, embarking on a mazy solo run and firing just over the crossbar.
Thomas Meunier (RWB) – 8/10 – SUPER SUB! Had the chance to double the lead, and did not disappoint. Crisp finish to give the Russian shot-stopper no chance. Lovely assist for the third.
Eden Hazard (LW) – 6/10
Thomas Vermaelen (CB) – 6/10
Dennis Praet (CM) – 6/10
Anton Shunin (GK) – 4/10 – Left completely exposed by his hapless defence for the first, but should have done better for the second.
Mario Fernandes (RB) – 6/10 – Suffered an arduous evening against the marauding Carrasco and tricky Hazard. Not a duo you want to face with your teammates at sixes and sevens.
Andrey Semenov (CB) – 5/10 – All over the shop for the opener, somehow allowing the ball to dribble through to Lukaku. Chaos multiplied in that backline.
Georgiy Dzhikiya (CB) – 5/10 – Didn’t cover himself in glory at all in the first half. Relieved to see the full-time whistle.
Yuri Zhirkov (LB) – 5/10 – Couldn’t live with the speed at which Belgium charged in his direction, and had to be substituted towards the end of the first half. The guy is 37, in fairness.
Magomed Ozdoev (CM) – 5/10 – The first half passed him by as Belgium took control, but he recovered to give a better account of himself.
Dmitri Barinov (CM) – 5/10 – Couldn’t get near Belgium’s combative and talented midfield, and found himself getting overrun time and time again. Subbed at half-time.
Aleksandr Golovin (AM) – 6/10 – Isolated for large parts of the game, and couldn’t find the space where he usually tends to operate. If Golovin isn’t on form, Russia struggle.
Roman Zobnin (RW) – 5/10 – Moved into midfield in the second half to try and provide some solidity, and helped stem the flow. A difficult evening.
Artem Dzyuba (ST) – 6/10 – Cut a frustrated figure up top, rarely receiving the balls in the air which make him a dangerous asset. Didn’t have the pace to frighten the opposition.
Daler Kuzyaev (LW) – 5/10 – Lasted only half an hour before suffering the nasty clash of heads with Castagne, resulting in both players being substituted.
Denis Cheryshev (LW) – 5/10 – Came on after half an hour, only to be subbed again half an hour later. Ahh.
Vyacheslav Karavayev (LB) – 6/10
Igor Diveev (CB) – 6/10
Aleksey Miranchuk (LW) – 6/10