Despite the end of the game between Denmark and Finland earlier in the evening, the meeting between Belgium and Russia did take place this Saturday evening. The second Group B match was therefore held without change. The Red Devils, 1st in the FIFA rankings, traveled to Saint Petersburg to face Russia, the 38th nation in the world. Reduced, Roberto Martinez’s team had to do without Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard or Axel Witsel. Three executives from this golden Belgian generation. The Spanish coach therefore decided to line up an attacking trio Mertens – Lukaku – Carrasco, supported by a midfielder Dendoncker – Tielemens and a defense Alderweireld – Boyata – Vertonghen – Castagne in front of Courtois in the cages. On the other side, Stanislav Tchertchessov lined up Dzyuba at the top, in front of the Monegasque Golovin in position of number 10 alongside Kuzyaev, Zobnin on the sides, in the middle the Ozdoev-Barinov tandem rubbed shoulders with the defense Zhirkov-Dzhikiya-Semenov-Fernandes with Shunin in goal.
At the start of the match, Belgium hit hard through Romelu Lukaku who scored the first goal of the match in the tenth minute of play on the very first strike on target and the occasion of the match. The Inter Milan striker, sparkling this season and great actor of the Scudetto des Nerazzurri, took advantage of a big mistake by Andrey Semenov, following a cross from Mertens, who failed to clear the ball from the area. The former Chelsea striker did not hesitate to score the first goal of the Red Devils in this Euro. 1-0 from the 10th minute of play. When celebrating his goal, Lukaku sent a message to his club teammate Christian Eriksen: “Chris, I love you” he said to the camera.
– beIN SPORTS (@beinsports_FR) June 12, 2021
A great Romelu Lukaku facing a small Russia
Very touching gesture on the part of the Belgian center-forward for the playmaker of the Italian champion team, present at that time in the hospital in Copenhagen after his discomfort during the match against Finland. If Mario Fernandes answered with a head a few moments later (14th), it was the Belgians who got the most opportunities through Leander Dendoncker (18th) or Thorgan Hazard (22nd). In the 24th minute of play, Timothy Castagne had to go out injured after a collision with Daler Kuzyaev and was therefore replaced by Thomas Meunier. The Borussia Dortmund side didn’t take long to show up. Indeed, it was the former Paris Saint-Germain player who scored Belgium’s second goal in this meeting in the 34th minute of play (2-0). Positioned in the box, he picked up a ball cleared by Russian goalkeeper Anton Shunin following a center shot from Thorgan Hazard. Meunier took advantage of a new Russian error to double the bet and bring the score to 2-0 in this first period. Catastrophic start to competition for the last quarter-finalist of the 2018 World Cup, who was in agony at the end of the period like this solo action by Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (45th). At the break, Dries Mertens’ partners logically led to the score and largely dominated the Russians who were too feverish defensively.
The second half was calmer and Sbornaïa got their foot on the ball, while getting a few chances without being really dangerous. After a very eventful first act, the second was very ordinary. In the 72nd minute of play, Roberto Martinez decided to bring in the usual captain Eden Hazard, who then replaced Dries Mertens. The Real Madrid striker had played very little in the last few meetings and he had joined the selection short of form after a more than very mixed season with Casa Blanca. The entry of the former Chelsea player ultimately did not change anything and if Belgium moved a little further forward, it was no longer dangerous. At the very end of the match, Lukaku, thrown in depth by Thomas Meunier, improved this ball and won his face-to-face with the Russian goalkeeper and crossed his shot (88th). 3-0, doubled by Romelu Lukaku who then became the top scorer in the Euro at that moment. Note also the very good entry of Thomas Meunier, scorer and decisive passer. And the referee whistled the end of the match, a 3-0 victory for Belgium who then became Group B leaders ahead of Finland who had beaten Denmark 1-0 earlier in the day.
The classification of group B can be found here