RUSSIA – Belgium, with an unstoppable Lukaku, author of two goals, beat harmless Russia (3-0) this Saturday without disheveled, showing that they have plenty of weapons to win the European Championship.
Roberto Martínez’s team was a seamless machine. With an almost military discipline and with hardly any frills, the ‘red devils’ struck the table.
With a goal in each half, Lukaku showed why he is the terror of any defense. Of course, in the second half the Belgians were limited to sleeping the game with their mind set on rivals of greater substance.
The match was on the verge of being postponed due to Christian Eriksen fainting in the match played shortly before in Copenhagen between Finland and Denmark, but UEFA decided to go ahead with the competition after confirming the improvement in the Danish player’s condition.
As expected, Madrid’s Eden Hazard started the game on the bench. That added to the already known casualties of Kevin de Bruyne and Axel Witsel, who did not even travel to Russia.
The locals bet on a team with a lot of muscle and with a single artist in the center of the field, Golovín.
Lukaku got all the attention in the first part. After a few minutes of scoring and in front of a noisy home crowd, the burly forward took advantage of the first chance he had to score.
The Russians called offside, but the Inter Milan footballer took advantage of Semenov’s blunder in the clearance to shoot first and score with his left foot, despite the fact that the shot was not clean (min.10).
Lukaku, in a nice gesture, dedicated it to his Inter Milan teammate, admitted to a hospital.
The Belgians were still able to score on two other occasions, but on one Dendoncker shot high, after a pass from Lukaku, and on another Shunin blocked a shot from Thorgan Hazard.
Courtois was a mere spectator. Belgium wanted to sentence in the first part. So it was. A center without apparent danger was cleared by an insecure Shunin and the rejection was taken advantage of by the recently entered Meunier (min.34).
Eriksen’s collapse flew over the Saint Petersburg match, since, after a clash between Castagne and Kuzyáev at half an hour, both were immediately substituted.
A shot over the crossbar by Carrasco after a good individual play preceded the break.
The Russians came out strong in the resumption. Courtois had to punch out on one occasion and parried a hard shot from outside the area on another. With a mixture of pride and drive, the Slavs even cornered the Belgians.
The last cartridge for the Russians was Alexéi Miranchuk, Atalanta’s fine midfielder.
Meanwhile, the Belgians reserved forces. Aware that the tournament is long and that the goal is victory, Roberto Martínez’s pupils opted for long possessions. Only the athletic Carrasco seemed determined to fight alone against the Russian wall.
Then came the moment that everyone was waiting for. Eden Hazard jumped onto the field. He had about twenty minutes to leave a glimpse of his great class.
I try a couple of times, but with no luck.
Instead, Lukaku was plugged in. He took advantage of a long pass from Meunier shortly before the final whistle to beat the Russian goalkeeper. The silence of the stadium was his best tribute.