A brace from Romelu Lukaku and a goal by substitute Thomas Meunier set up a comfortable opening night for Belgium as Roberto Martínez’s men proved too strong with a 3-0 win against Russia on Saturday.
There was some doubt as to whether Belgium’s game with Russia in St Petersburg would go ahead as scheduled because of events in Copenhagen where Christian Eriksen, Denmark’s talisman, collapsed in the first half of his country’s match against Finland.
The game in St Petersburg was, however, given the all-clear after the Danish Football Association revealed Eriksen was “awake” in hospital.
Billed among the pre-tournament favourites, Belgium betrayed a few early nerves but a typically ruthless strike from Lukaku soon quelled them, the Inter striker pouncing on indecision by Russia’s by Andrey Semenov which was caused by Dries Mertens’ searching cross in the 10th minute.
The striker celebrated his goal by shouting “Chris, Chris, I love you” in front of a television camera.
Calm in possession and clinical in and around the penalty area, Belgium kept probing and on 34 minutes they had a two-goal cushion, substitute Thomas Meunier firing in when Anton Shunin could only parry Thorgan Hazard’s glorious cross.
Russia’s difficulties were exacerbated by the loss of Daler Kuzyaev and Yuri Zhirkov to injuries before the break, but they rallied at the start of the second period, finding space between the lines.
The Red Devils were, however, still not unduly troubled, holding them at arm’s length before Lukaku wrapped up a 3-0 win late on.
A tournament-ending injury to Timothy Castagne took away some of the gloss, though.
The victory put Belgium, one of the fancied teams at Euro 2020, top of Group B level on points with Finland, who beat Denmark 1-0 in a game that was suspended following Eriksen’s collapse before being re-started.
Additional reporting from UEFA and BBC