Euro 2020: Lukaku brace fires Belgium past Russia

It was a night to remember for Romelu Lukaku, centre. Photo: AFP

St Petersburg:  Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium confirmed their status as one of the favourites for Euro 2020 with a confident 3-0 victory over Russia on Saturday.

Despite being without key performer Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium were rarely in trouble against a Russia side that struggled to impose themselves. Roberto Martinez's Belgium top Group B on three points, along with Finland who beat Denmark in the group's other game in Copenhagen.

The visitors grabbed the lead in the tenth 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.

 Dzyuba  & Alderweireld
Russia's Artem Dzyuba and Belgium's Toby Alderweireld fight for possession. Photo: Reuters

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. 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 struggled to create openings, and the game already felt beyond them before Lukaku wrapped up the win with a well-taken effort after racing on to a through ball from Meunier.

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