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Lukaku’s brace helps Belgium thrash Russia in Euro 2020

  • June 13, 2021

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium thrashed Russia in their opening game of the Euro 2020 on Saturday with a 3-0 victory in Saint Petersburg.

Lukaku gave Belgium an early lead in Saint Petersburg, then
shouted “Chris, Chris, stay strong — I love you” into a pitchside
camera during the celebration for his opening goal.

His club team-mate Eriksen is recovering in hospital in
Copenhagen after collapsing on the pitch during extraordinary scenes which
overshadowed Denmark’s 1-0 home defeat by Finland in Saturday’s earlier Group B

Substitute Thomas Meunier doubled Belgium’s lead on 34
minutes before Lukaku put the result beyond doubt with a late second goal.

Belgium, the world’s top-ranked team, are under pressure to
deliver at the European Championship as some pundits claim this is Roberto
Martinez’s last chance to win a title with an ageing squad.

Yet even with Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel sidelined by injury, Belgium were too
strong for Russia.

The hosts got off to a bad start when Andrei Semenov failed
to deal with a cross by Dries Mertens in the build-up to the opening goal.

The ball fell to Lukaku, who span away and drove his shot
into the bottom far corner on 10 minutes.

Belgium’s Timothy Castagne and Russia’s Daler Kuzyaev had to
be helped off following a nasty clash of heads which saw both players

Meunier, Castagne’s replacement at right-back, grabbed
Belgium’s second by slotting home the rebound after his Dortmund team-mate
Thorgan Hazard swung in a cross which Anton Shunin failed to hold.

It stayed 2-0 at the break, but Russia raised the tempo in
the second half as Roman Zobnin fired over the Belgian goal.

Real Madrid star Eden Hazard replaced Mertens for the final
18 minutes to lift the Belgian attack.

With two minutes left, Lukaku swept Meunier’s pass into the
Russian net to claim his 20th goal in his last 15 international games.

Before kick-off, the Belgium team were booed for taking a
knee to highlight racial injustice, while their Russian opponents stood.

Jeers echoed around the Krestovsky Stadium as the entire
Belgian team, as well as Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, knelt, while
Lukaku, whose parents come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, raised his
right fist.

England have said they will do the same for their opening
game of the European Championship against Croatia on Sunday.

Ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling to
protest against racial injustice in 2016.

The gesture has become a familiar sight across a range of
sports since George Floyd, who was black, was killed by a white police officer
in the United States last year.

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