Romelu Lukaku (l.) And Thomas Meunier (r.) Met
Photo: Anton Vaganov - Pool / Getty Images
Russia could not use the home advantage: Belgium started with a victory in the European football championship.
The Belgian team beat the Russians 3-0 (1-0) in Saint Petersburg.
Romelu Lukaku (10th minute / 88th) and Thomas Meunier (34th) scored the goals.
Ten minutes into the game, defender Andrei Semenov slipped a high ball through his legs.
Lukaku lurked behind him in the penalty area and hit the lead with a low shot.
Then he ran to a camera and called in English: "Chris, stay strong, I love you."
The message was addressed to Christian Eriksen, Lukaku's team-mate at Inter Milan.
Eriksen suddenly collapsed in the first Group B match between Denmark and Finland.
He was taken to hospital after medical treatment, and his condition is said to be stable.
Belgium also took the initiative in the game with the lead. Russia's Mário Fernandes had the chance to equalize quickly with a corner kick, but failed with a header to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (14th). Belgium remained superior - and benefited from another Russian mistake. Thorgan Hazard's cross from the left fended off Anton Shunin forward and Meunier easily pushed in to make it 2-0 (34th). The Borussia Dortmund professional had been substituted on just four minutes earlier.
At the beginning of the second half, Russia pushed into the attack but did not come to a dangerous conclusion.
Belgium tried to calm the game down with longer periods of possession and seemed satisfied with the 2-0 win.
The control tactic worked, Russia could no longer catch up.
Instead, Lukaku managed to make it 3-0 in the final phase after a quick attack (88th).
With the win, Belgium now leads Group B ahead of Finland, who beat Denmark 1-0.
Finland will face Russia on June 16, Belgium will play Denmark on June 17.
Before the game, a conflict had emerged that could well continue in the coming games.
Belgium's players and the referee team kneeled down as a sign against racism.
The Russian players had stopped.
Loud whistles could be heard from the stands, which were probably directed against the Belgian team.
Most recently, the English team was booed by some of their own fans for the same action.