The drama surrounding Christian Eriksen, who became unwell at Denmark-Finland and had to be resuscitated on the field, also affected the players of Russia and Belgium. A few Red Devils (Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld) have played with Eriksen for years at Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur, while the Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku is currently a teammate of the Dane at Internazionale.
Lukaku is the great asset of the Belgians this tournament. The super striker, who played an important role in Inter’s first league title in 11 years, only needed ten minutes to break the spell. After fumbling in the back with the Russians, Lukaku made his first tournament goal. To celebrate his goal, the striker stormed towards the nearest camera to send the message ‘Chris I love you’ into the air, a statement of support to his teammate Christian Eriksen.
It was Lukaku’s 61st international goal in 94 international matches, staggering numbers. And it is already the fourth major tournament in which the striker has scored after the 2014 World Cup, EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. Where Lukaku was on target in the group stage in the last two tournaments (with two and four goals respectively), there he failed to make the difference in the knockout phase. Given his current top form, it is expected in Belgium that Lukaku will lead his team very far into the tournament, possibly even to the coveted first major prize.
The Belgians had a messy run-up to the physical problems of the important links Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel. The game in Saint Petersburg came too early for both midfielders. Youri Tielemans, who has developed stormily with the Belgians over the past year and is a certainty in the middle line, was therefore joined by Thorgan Hazard and Leander Dendoncker.
The injury ghost also hit the Belgians in Saint Petersburg. Defender Timothy Castagne was seriously injured in a collision and appears to have suffered a tear in an eye socket, following De Bruyne. It was Castagne’s replacement, Thomas Meunier, who took advantage of poor goalkeeping by Russian goalie Anton Shunin in the 34th minute.
With that, the game was over and the Belgians, who have a heavy travel program in the group stage, could save a little strength. Eden Hazard also got some playing minutes in the final phase. The former star of this Belgian generation has had two extremely difficult years with a lot of injuries, but the Red Devils hope that Hazard can tap his old level in the familiar environment of the national team.
If Hazard picks up steam and De Bruyne can shake off his physical discomforts, the Belgians have a team that can go very far this tournament and possibly make a shot at the title, after just three years ago at the World Cup in Russia didn’t work.
Lukaku proved once again in the final phase that he is ready to take silverware with this golden Belgian generation. The power striker sprinted well into the depths and made it 3-0 in a controlled manner, boosting his magnificent average to 62 goals in 94 international matches.
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Belgium starts the European Championship excellent with a big win over Russia | European Football Championship
Source link Belgium starts the European Championship excellent with a big win over Russia | European Football Championship