The Red Devils began their Euro seriously, Saturday, June 12, against Russia by logically winning (3-0) on the side of St. Petersburg. In a particular context after the discomfort of the Danish Christian Eriksen in the other match of Group B and which for a long time left doubts about the holding of this meeting, the Belgians, favorites in the title, have their status respected and have been able to be realistic to exploit Sbornaya’s defensive errors.
Yet this Group B shock promised greater opposition from white-hot Russians in front of more than 30,000 people inside the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. Facing dThe Red Devils without Kevin de Bruyne, package, or Eden Hazard at the start of the meeting, the Russians scuttled on a cross from the right of Dries Mertens. Misguided, Russian defender Andrey Semenov unscrewed his clearance allowing Romelu Lukaku, yet offside at the start of the action, to quickly take the lead (1-0, 10th).
A complicated first quarter of an hour for the Russians, unable to come out of their half of the field properly. A constant fragility once again demonstrated by the same Semenov, following a poorly controlled ball and which allowed Lukaku to go alone on goal, before being caught in extremis in the penalty area by a tackle from Dzikhiya (19th) .
Failing to be precise in the game, the Russians were sometimes at the limit of the engagement as on this head-to-head shock between Castagne and Kuzaiev (25th). Faced with a wait-and-see Russian collective that is too weak on a technical level, Thorgan Hazard found the key on a receding center in the box. A ball badly cleared by the goalkeeper Shunin in the feet of Thomas Meunier, who had just entered the game instead of Castagne, and who only had to place his shot in the small net to achieve the break (2-0 , 34e).
The Belgians were content to manage their lead in a second act where the rhythm has slowed down considerably, despite the entry into play of Eden Hazard (72nd). Stunned and without creativity, Alexandre Golovine’s teammates lacked speed in their transitions and often used long approximate balls to (too) rarely worry Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian goalkeeper.
A form of helplessness that Thomas Meunier and Romelu Lukaku did not have following a comeback in midfield and a deep pass from the first to the second in the axis. The Inter Milan striker then made his class speak with a clear strike with the right foot in the area to score a double and definitively crush the Russian defense (3-0, 88th).
– OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 12, 2021
Efficiency pushed to its maximum for the Red Devils in this first match in the competition. With three goals out of four shots on target, the Belgian attack gave voice to its experience and technical quality, particularly on the wings to combine and destabilize a disappointing and devoid of ideas Russia. The Belgians of Roberto Martinez, already semi-finalist of the World Cup in 2018, are therefore already positioned as a serious contender for the title without having been flamboyant in the game, before approaching their second match against Denmark on Thursday.