Denmark lit up Euro 2020 on Monday as they thumped Russia 4-1 to finish second in Group B and progress to the last 16.

Belgium ran out winners in that group after a 2-0 win over Finland, with Markku Kanerva's side finishing third by virtue of an inferior goal difference to Denmark.

In Group C, the Netherlands sealed top spot with a 3-0 victory against rock-bottom North Macedonia, with Austria joining them in the knockout stages after overcoming Ukraine, who finished third. 

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from Monday's games.

Russia 1-4 Denmark: Hjulmand's side progress in spectacular fashion

Denmark produced one of the standout displays of the tournament so far to set up a last-16 clash with Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday. 

The sensational win meant Denmark became the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group-stage games.

It also marked the first time Denmark had scored four goals in a major tournament game since a 4-1 victory over Nigeria at the 1998 World Cup.

Mikkel Damsgaard put Denmark ahead shortly before the interval to become his country's youngest ever goalscorer at a major tournament, with the forward also the first player born in the 2000s to score in the European Championship. 

Yussuf Poulsen added a second, the RB Leipzig man netting in consecutive games for Denmark for only the second time, also doing so in June 2018 against Mexico in a friendly and Peru at the World Cup.

Artem Dzyuba then scored his 30th international goal to move level with Aleksandr Kerzhakov as the all-time joint top-scorer for Russia – since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR), but Andreas Christensen and Joakim Maehle wrapped up a memorable win for Kasper Hjulmand's side.

Finland 0-2 Belgium: Martinez's Red Devils march on in style

This latest victory means Belgium have won all three group games at back-to-back major tournaments, while it is the first time they have won all of their group fixtures at a single European Championship tournament.

Belgium went ahead in the 74th minute when Thomas Vermaelen's header from a corner bounced up onto the post and went in off the unfortunate Lukas Hradecky's hand.

Hradecky became just the second goalkeeper in European Championship history to score an own goal after Wojciech Szczesny for Poland against Slovakia earlier in the tournament.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku then netted his third goal of the tournament seven minutes later.

Since making his major international tournament debut for Belgium in 2014, the Inter forward has scored 10 goals in such competitions – only Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and France's Antoine Griezmann have scored more major tournament goals for a European nation during this period (11 each).

Belgium's Jeremy Doku (19 years and 25 days), meanwhile, became the second youngest player to appear for the nation at a European Championship tournament after Enzo Scifo (18 years and 115 days).

North Macedonia 0-3 Netherlands: Oranje make history in third consecutive win

Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum starred as the Netherlands won all three of their group-stage games at the European Championship for the third time (also 2000 and 2008) – more than any other side in the competition.

Their latest win meant the Oranje have scored two goals in 10 successive games for the first time ever, while they now have 65 goals at the European Championship finals, leapfrogging France into second place to sit behind only Germany (76) in the competition's history. 

Barcelona-bound Depay got the Netherlands on their way with his 50th goal involvement in 67 appearances for the national team (28 goals and 22 assists). He has now been involved in 13 goals in his last 10 games for the Oranje in all competitions (nine goals and four assists).

In his 78th appearance for the Netherlands, Paris Saint-Germain recruit Wijnaldum scored his 24th and 25th goals. Fifteen of these strikes have been in his 25 games since the start of 2019, with no player scoring more for the Dutch during this time.

North Macedonia, meanwhile, are just the fourth team to lose 100 per cent of their matches at their first appearance in the European Championships, after Turkey in 1996, Denmark in 1964 and France in 1960.

Ukraine 0-1 Austria: Baumgartner seals last-16 spot

This win meant Austria progressed to the knockout stages of a European Championship for the first time in their history. 

They were in dominant mood against their meek opponents, taking 18 shots – a tally they have only bettered twice before in a European Championship game (23 against Iceland in 2016 and 20 against Croatia in 2008).

Austria only found the back of the net once, though, Christoph Baumgartner becoming the youngest player ever to score for the nation at the European Championship, aged 21 years and 324 days.

He was teed up by Real Madrid's David Alaba, who registered his third assist in six appearances for Austria in the competition – two more than any other Austrian. 

Ukraine, meanwhile, have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their nine games at the European Championship – the most matches played in the competition by a team without having their defence breached.

France, England, Switzerland, Sweden and the Czech Republic qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2020 due to results on Monday.

With Finland and Ukraine finishing on three points in Group B and C respectively, four nations were guaranteed to advance ahead of their third matches of the tournament and Switzerland's spot in the next stage was also sealed.

Finland and Ukraine can only watch on and hope they can scrape through as one of the best four third-placed teams after they suffered defeats in their final group games, both finishing with three points.

A 2-0 defeat to Belgium resulted in Finland missing out on second place to Denmark, who knocked Russia out with a resounding 4-1 win in Copenhagen.

Ukraine were beaten 1-0 by Austria earlier in the day, missing out on a top-two spot to Franco Foda's side - who progressed from the group stage for the first time in a European Championship.

Switzerland will qualify along with Italy and Wales in Group A, having amassed four points.

The Czech Republic and England meet at Wembley on Tuesday knowing they will go through, as they both have four points to their name.

The same goes for Group F leaders and world champions France ahead of their final match against holders Portugal on Wednesday.

Group E leaders Sweden will start their encounter with Poland on Wednesday knowing even a defeat would see them through, as they lead the way with four points.

France, England, Switzerland, Sweden and the Czech Republic qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2020 due to results on Monday.

With Finland and Ukraine finishing on three points in Group B and C respectively, four nations were guaranteed to advance ahead of their third matches of the tournament and Switzerland's spot in the next stage was also sealed.

Finland and Ukraine can only watch on and hope they can scrape through as one of the best four third-placed teams after they suffered defeats in their final group games, both finishing with three points.

A 2-0 defeat to Belgium resulted in Finland missing out on second place to Denmark, who knocked Russia out with a resounding 4-1 win in Copenhagen.

Ukraine were beaten 1-0 by Austria earlier in the day, missing out on a top-two spot to Franco Foda's side - who progressed from the group stage for the first time in a European Championship.

Switzerland will qualify along with Italy and Wales in Group A, having amassed four points.

The Czech Republic and England meet at Wembley on Tuesday knowing they will go through, as they both have four points to their name.

The same goes for Group F leaders and world champions France ahead of their final match against holders Portugal on Wednesday.

Group E leaders Sweden will start their encounter with Poland on Wednesday knowing even a defeat would see them through, as they lead the way with four points.

Denmark remarkably booked their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020 with a stirring 4-1 win over Russia in Copenhagen on Monday. 

After losing 1-0 to Finland – a game overshadowed by the cardiac arrest suffered by Christian Eriksen – and 2-1 to Belgium, Denmark's hopes of making the knockout stages were slim before the clash at the Parken Stadium. 

Kasper Hjulmand's side delivered a sensational display, though, to claim a first win of the tournament – and seal second spot in Group B courtesy of Finland's defeat to Belgium – Mikkel Damsgaard and Yussuf Poulsen putting them 2-0 up before the hour mark. 

Artem Dzyuba pulled one back for Russia from the penalty spot, but Denmark secured a thrilling victory late on thanks to goals from Andreas Christensen and Joakim Maehle, sparking jubilant scenes in the Danish capital and setting up a showdown with Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday. 

Denmark will have to show more quality in front of goal in Monday's Euro 2020 clash with Russia if they are to have any hope of progressing from Group B.

Kasper Hjulmand's side have scored from just one of their 43 shots in this year's tournament, while their opponents have had seven shots against them and scored three times.

After losing 1-0 to Finland – a game overshadowed by the cardiac arrest suffered by Christian Eriksen – and 2-1 to Belgium, Denmark are now in the last chance saloon.

They can finish second if they beat Russia and Finland lose to Belgium, depending on the goals scored in those two matches, while only a win will do for third place.

Following positive updates on the health of Eriksen, who has been discharged from hospital, Hjulmand's focus for now is on getting three points against Russia in Copenhagen.

"No matter what, we shall go out there and try to win the match," he said. "It's going to be an unbelievably hard match against Russia.

"They are coming to Parken with a result they can use for something. We shouldn't force anything. We have to keep a level head."

Russia put their 3-0 loss to Belgium behind them with a 1-0 win over Finland last time out and will advance to the last 16 with a victory on Monday, while a draw may be enough.

The visitors have had a day's extra rest than Denmark, but head coach Stanislav Cherchesov insists there will be more to the game than fitness alone.

"That can be important at major tournaments, but not necessarily vital," Cherchesov said. "What will be vital is the tactics, the team, our approach. 

"I have no doubt that we will play at our best level. Our task is to do our job well and get the result."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Russia – Artem Dzyuba

Zenit forward Dzyuba exchanged passes with Aleksey Miranchuk for Russia's winner against Finland – albeit for a goal that was all about the quality of his team-mate's finish – to make it 22 goal involvements in his last 21 international appearances.

That includes 14 goals, the most recent of those coming in March's World Cup qualifying win over Slovenia. Dzyuba has showed that there is more to his game than scoring goals, and Russia will need their captain to be on top of his game on Monday. 

Denmark – Martin Braithwaite

Barcelona forward Braithwaite had seven of his side's 21 shots against Belgium without finding the net – the most by a Denmark player in a Euros match since Preben Elkjaer Larsen had 10 against Spain at Euro 1984.

He found himself in some promising positions in that loss to the world's top-ranked side, and was desperately unlucky not to score from a late header that hit the crossbar, but Denmark could do with one of Braithwaite's efforts ending in the opposition net.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Since the dissolution of the USSR, Russia and Denmark have only met once, in a friendly at Copenhagen's Parken Stadium in February 2012. Russia won 2-0.

– Russia kept a clean sheet last time out against Finland. They had conceded in 16 of their previous 17 major tournament games (Euros and World Cup), since keeping consecutive shutouts against Greece and Sweden at Euro 2008.

– Denmark have suffered defeat in each of their two group stage games at Euro 2020. They have twice previously lost all three of their group games in a European Championships tournament, doing so at Euro 1988 and Euro 2000.

– Russia are looking to record back-to-back wins at the European Championship for the first time since winning three in a row at Euro 2008, the first two wins of which were their final two group games.

– Yussuf Poulsen scored Denmark's goal in their 2-1 defeat to Belgium. Poulsen has only scored in consecutive appearances once for his national side, doing so in June 2018 against Mexico in a friendly and Peru at the World Cup.

Roberto Mancini's Italy side scored three goals once again as they stormed into the last 16 of Euro 2020 with a 3-0 rout of Switzerland.

Italy leapfrogged Wales to the top of Group A, with Robert Page's team having beat Turkey earlier on Wednesday to give themselves a great chance of making the knockout stages.

Gareth Bale was heavily involved, teeing up both of Wales' goals either side of missing a penalty.

Elsewhere, Russia beat Finland 1-0 in Saint Petersburg to inject life into their hopes in Group B.

Italy 3-0 Switzerland: Mancini's Azzurri in rampant form

It is now 10 wins on the bounce for Italy, with 10 clean sheets to boot, and Mancini is just one game away from matching the all-time Azzurri record of 30 games unbeaten, set by Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.

Remarkably, Italy had never scored three goals in a Euros match before their win over Turkey on Friday. Their successive 3-0 victories make them only the second side in European Championship history to open their tournament with consecutive wins by a three-goal margin, after the Netherlands in 2008 (3-0 v Italy, 4-1 v France).

Manuel Locatelli's double – his first for club or country – put the hosts in control at Stadio Olimpico. Only Giacomo Bulgarelli (v Switzerland in 1962) and Mario Balotelli (v Germany in 2012) have scored a brace for Italy at a major tournament at a younger age than the Sassuolo midfielder (23 years, 159 days).

Ciro Immobile rounded the win off late on with his second goal of the tournament. 

The Lazio star is the first player to score in Italy's opening two games of a major tournament since Christian Vieri at the 2002 World Cup.

Turkey 0-2 Wales: Bale spares his own blushes

Excluding penalty shootouts, Bale became the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a penalty at the Euros since Raul did so for Spain against France at the 2000 tournament when the Wales captain blazed over from 12 yards midway through the second half in Baku.

Bale had previously set up Aaron Ramsey for Wales' opener in a frantic Group A clash, playing a fantastic pass over Turkey's defence – one of four chances the duo created for each other.

The 31-year-old, who created five chances in total, the record in a Euros game since at least 1980, atoned for his miss in style, charging in from a stoppage-time corner to tee up Connor Roberts to settle the contest and put Wales well in with a shout of a last-16 place.

Only world champions France (six) have won more games across Euro 2016 and Euro 2020 than Wales, who have now triumphed in five of their eight matches in the competition, boasting the highest winning percentage of all sides to have played at any European Championships (63).

Wales remain unbeaten in their six matches across all competitions in Baku (W4 D2), keeping clean sheets in each victory, while no side has suffered more defeats in the group stages of the competition than Turkey (nine, level with Russia).

Finland 0-1 Russia: Miranchuk ends goal drought 

Aleksey Miranchuk scored his first goal for Russia since November 2019 – a run of nine appearances – to secure the three points against Finland in Wednesday's early game.

The win keeps Russia's chances of qualifying for the knockout stages alive, and a Denmark victory over Belgium on Thursday would throw Group B wide open.

It was Russia's first win at the Euros since they beat the Czech Republic in 2012 (4-1) – ending a six-match winless run in the competition.

Miranchuk's goal, timed at 46:21, came after the longest wait for a shot on target in a game at Euro 2020 so far.

Since 1980, only Sweden at Euro 2016 (0) have managed fewer shots on target in their opening two games of a single European Championships tournament than Finland (two).

Russia matchwinner Aleksey Miranchuk played down concerns over missed chances after leading his country to a crucial 1-0 win over Finland.

The 25-year-old netted the only goal of the game as Stanislav Cherchesov's side grabbed their first win of Euro 2020 to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive.

However, the Russians would have been avoided a nervous finish to the game had they done better with the 14 shots they racked up to their opponents' 11.

Not that Miranchuk was concerned, though, the forward insisting that getting three points on the board was all that mattered after defeat to Belgium in the opening group game.

He told Match TV: "At this stage, the victory was most important. We have completed the task and are moving on. 

"Have we missed a lot of chances? That's football. It is important that we are creating chances."

Miranchuk's strike, which came in first-half injury time, was the result of intricate build-up play with target man Artem Dzyuba inside the box.

Asking about playing alongside such an experienced striker and the dangerous Aleksandr Golovin, he added: "There are requirements, there are tactics. 

"Football intelligence allows you to understand each other and feel each other. We always try to progress."

Russia manager Cherchesov was unsurprisingly full of praise for Miranchuk after the match, sharing his belief that the forward is benefiting from a move to Serie A with Atalanta last August.

He said: "I supported Miranchuk's decision to move to Europe, to get out of his comfort zone and play in one of the world's best leagues. 

"I'm happy with how he is making progress and I hope he'll start getting more game time at Atalanta next season. It will be good for both us and the player."

As for Finland coach Markku Kanerva, he was philosophical about a defeat that followed a shock 1-0 win over Denmark in his side's opening Group B game.

He said: "We defended well and going forward we improved on our display against Denmark. 

"We didn't manage to score but we had good situations: some shots that went narrowly wide, others were blocked. It was a really close game."

Russia kept injected life into their hopes of reaching the Euro 2020 knockout stages as they claimed a 1-0 win over Finland in Saint Petersburg.

Aleksey Miranchuk's exceptional finish saw Stanislav Cherchesov's side bounce back from a 3-0 defeat to Belgium on Saturday.

Miranchuk's 47th-minute goal came with the game's first shot on target – the longest wait for an effort on goal so far in Euro 2020 – and it set up an intriguing finish to Group B.

Both Russia and Finland remain in the running to reach the latter stages of the tournament having earned three points from their opening two fixtures.

A thrilling start saw Finland denied a well-worked opener by the linesman's flag, Joel Pohjanpalo having wandered just slightly offside before heading home Jukka Raitala's cross.

Russia responded well, but Magomed Ozdoev should have done far better than to lash over after being played in at close range by Miranchuk.

The hosts lost Mario Fernandes after an awkward fall but his replacement Vyacheslav Karavaev almost immediately opened the scoring, only for Jere Uronen to prevent him nudging in Daler Kuzyaev's teasing cross.

Yet Russia's breakthrough came on the stroke of half-time – Miranchuk playing a one-two with Artem Dzyuba inside the box before curling a sublime effort into the top-left corner.

Russia came within inches of doubling their lead shortly after the restart as Aleksandr Golovin sent an effort wide, though Teemu Pukki stung the palms of Matvey Safonov at the other end.

Lukas Hradecky pulled off a fine save down to his left to deny Kuzyaev and keep Finland in it.

But, while Russia were unable to make their chances pay in the final 15 minutes, they did enough to see out an important win in front of their vocal support.

Finland coach Markku Kanerva appreciates what happened to Christian Eriksen will remain with his players long after Euro 2020, but he hopes they can focus as they prepare to take on Russia.

Denmark midfielder Eriksen was given CPR on the pitch after collapsing with no other players around him in the first half of Saturday's Group B game against Finland in Copenhagen.

It was later confirmed the 29-year-old had suffered a cardiac arrest, with Morten Boesen - the team doctor for Denmark - revealing he was "gone" before being resuscitated on the field.

After a lengthy delay, the two nations returned to the pitch to complete the game. Finland went on to win 1-0, Joel Pohjanpalo grabbing the goal with his team's only attempt during proceedings.

While Eriksen is undergoing further tests in hospital - he posted an update on his condition via the Danish Football Union on Twitter on Tuesday, including a picture of him smiling while giving a thumbs-up gesture, Kanerva knows what unfolded will linger in some of his players' minds.

"It is hard to estimate how what happened to Eriksen is affecting different people. Of course we all have it in our minds and we are very glad that he's doing better," he told the media.

"I hope that with regarding the difficult situation, we will be able to concentrate on our next match. Certainly, it will remain in our minds, even after the tournament.

"It's not an easy task all of a sudden to concentrate only on football, because there were bigger things than football in play. Hopefully, we can concentrate fully and do our best."

Russia lost their opening game 3-0 to Belgium but will hope to bounce back against Finland, a team they have beaten in all four previous meetings since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

They have scored at least three goals in each of those matches, though coach Stanislav Cherchesov is taking nothing for granted.

"It was a somewhat surprise result (against Denmark), but Finland's attitude towards the game did not surprise me," Cherchesov, who revealed the injured Yuri Zhirkov could miss the rest of the tournament after coming off against Belgium, told the media.

"Their team is a strong one and they showed it. The game could have worked out differently, but we have known from the beginning that they are a strong opponent."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Finland - Joel Pohjanpalo

Pohjanpalo will forever have a place in history after scoring Finland's maiden goal in the tournament. He will be hoping to help them become the first team to win their opening two European Championship matches since Croatia back in 1996. The 26-year-old spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Union Berlin from Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen, scoring six times in 19 appearances.

Russia - Aleksandr Golovin

Russia endured a tough start on home soil, managing just one on-target attempt as they were soundly beaten in St Petersburg. Aleksandr Golovin did his best in attack, supplying seven crosses and creating one chance. Back in action at the same venue, the playmaker can expect to see far more of the ball after the Russians had just 33.6 per cent of possession against the Belgians.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Finland have only scored one goal in their four previous games against Russia, back in November 1995. That goal, scored by Kim Suominen, was netted past goalkeeper Stanislav Cherchesov, now Russia's head coach.
- Finland's 6-0 defeat to Russia back in August 1995 remains the last time they were beaten by that margin in an international match – current boss Markku Kanerva made his 58th and penultimate appearance for the national side that day.
- Russia are without a win in their last six matches at European Championships (D2 L4), losing each of their last three in a row. They have never lost four consecutive matches in the competition. 
- Since 1980, Finland became just the fourth team win a match at the European Championships while having 21+ shots fewer than their opponents, after Turkey in 2000 (v Belgium), Denmark in 2012 (v Netherlands) and Greece in 2012 (v Russia).
- Pohjanpalo scored his 10th international goal, in what was his 43rd cap for his country – becoming one of only two players in Finland's Euro 2020 squad to have netted 10+ goals for the national side (also Teemu Pukki, 30).
- Yuri Zhirkhov (37 years, 296 days) became the oldest player ever to make an appearance for Russia at the European Championship, overtaking Sergei Ignashevich from 2016 (36y 342d). However, his appearance against Belgium lasted only 43 minutes owing to injury, while only Ignashevich (10) has made more European Championship appearances for Russia than Zhirkhov (9). 

Belgium full-back Timothy Castagne has been ruled out for the remainder of Euro 2020 after sustaining a double fracture of his right eye socket.

Roberto Martinez's Belgium opened their Euro 2020 campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Russia on Saturday but it came at a cost.

Castagne and Russia's Daler Kuzyaev collided in mid-air after 25 minutes and both went down holding their heads.

Belgium's Castagne was substituted immediately and Kuzyaev two minutes later in the Group B clash in St Petersburg.

"Really bad news, really sad news to see Timothy Castagne is going to be out of the tournament," Belgium head coach Martinez said. 

"He's had images taken, he's got a double fracture and now we'll take the necessary treatment."

While Leicester City's Castagne will sit out the rest of the European Championship, the news was better for Jan Vertonghen. 

Veteran defender Vertonghen was withdrawn in the 77th minute due to ankle injury, but Martinez said there were no major concerns regarding his fitness going forward. 

"Vertonghen has got just a typical football injury, an ankle knock that we're probably going to wait 48 hours to see the real extent, but I don't expect it to be too serious," Martinez said. 

Overall, Martinez was satisfied to see his side play the way they did in the opener. 

"The performance is very pleasing," he said. "It's never easy to start a tournament of this magnitude and I think it looked a team very concentrated for 90 minutes, kept a clean sheet in a very good way, and then obviously the win will allow us to grow and to get into the tournament."

Belgium are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions (W8 D2) and have suffered just one defeat in their last 24 internationals (W20 D3), via a 2-1 loss to England in the Nations League in October 2020.

Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov will have far more to worry about after an uninspiring performance but expressed optimism his side will bounce back against Finland on Wednesday.

Cherchesov's Russia have lost four of their last six competitive games (W2) after losing just one of their 13 before that (W10 D2).

"We are still in the tournament," Cherchesov told a news conference. "We chose our system, which worked partially but then started to break down. The Belgians scored and then it was difficult to get the ball off them."

"We will get out of the situation. We put ourselves there, so now we must find a way out."

Romelu Lukaku dedicated his inspirational performance in Belgium's win over Russia to Christian Eriksen after his Inter team-mate collapsed during Denmark's Euro 2020 game against Finland.

Denmark captain Eriksen required emergency treatment on the field after he fell to the turf late in the first half of the Group B match at Parken Stadium on Saturday.

The midfielder was awake in hospital and undergoing tests following such traumatic scenes in Copenhagen, with his team-mates having formed a protective barrier around him while efforts were made to resuscitate him.

Lukaku shed tears for Eriksen as he watched the game before scoring twice in Belgium's 3-0 win over Russia later in the day.

The striker shouted "I love you Chris" into a television camera after putting the Red Devils in front.

He told beIN SPORTS: "I'm really happy with the win but for me it was difficult to play today because my mind was with my team-mate, Christian.

"I hope that he's healthy and I dedicate this performance to him.

"I cried a lot because I was scared. We lived strong moments together for a year and a half, I spent more time with him than with my family. My thoughts are with him, his girlfriend, his two kids and his family."

Toby Alderweireld had similar thoughts after the match, writing on Twitter about his former Tottenham team-mate to say: "First win of the tournament but tonight was about more than football." 

Tagging Eriksen, he added: "My friend, my thoughts are with you and your family."

Finland beat Denmark 1-0 after the first Group B game resumed with the five remaining minutes of the first half played before a shortened half-time interval.

UEFA said the match was completed "following the request made by players of both teams".

Widespread concern met the decision for Denmark and Finland to return to the pitch less than two hours after Christian Eriksen had first collapsed in Copenhagen on Saturday.

An alarming incident prompted serious fears for Eriksen's life, fears that were eased but not eradicated by positive updates on the midfielder's condition.

For those watching from afar, the swift restart could not have been anticipated. There was wonder instead for how Belgium and Russia could possibly play later.

The Belgium squad features Eriksen's Inter team-mate Romelu Lukaku and long-term Ajax and Tottenham colleagues Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.

But, sure enough, confirmation was forthcoming of the resumption in Group B's first fixture, set for 20:30 CET, with Belgium's kick-off to follow as scheduled half an hour later.

Understandably, Denmark turned in a distracted display. Lacking the same enthusiasm as earlier, they fell to a 1-0 defeat that would usually have been considered a major upset. Few were thinking about Finland's historic result, minds focused instead on Eriksen.

Indeed, it was a similar story in Saint Petersburg, even if Russia made for accommodating hosts.

Lukaku profited from hapless Andrey Semenov defending and finished ruthlessly after 10 minutes. Rather than revel in his eighth tournament goal – the most of any Belgium player – the forward made for a nearby television camera.

"Chris," he bellowed, reaching the lens. "Chris, stay strong. I love you."

Eriksen occupied Lukaku's thoughts even at a moment of apparent elation, an action that backed up the words of UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

"At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and [Eriksen] and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone," Ceferin said.

Further tributes will follow and it is difficult to imagine how that agonising Parken Stadium wait for family, friends, team-mates, opponents and fans, eager for any news at all as medical staff worked at length, does not overshadow the entire tournament.

Lukaku will hope there is at least time for some Belgian cheer before the Euros concludes at Wembley next month.

If Eriksen continues to recover, the Red Devils striker can allow his attention to return to the professional task at hand: finally delivering finals glory for his country.

Now or never is the popular verdict. Belgium entered this competition with a squad that boasts the most caps and ranks second oldest, behind only Sweden.

Lukaku is 28 and should play at Qatar 2022 and beyond, but some of his team-mates may not.

While the defence is undoubtedly ageing, the injury issues that are dogging other star names have become increasingly, frustratingly regular.

As Belgium reached the latter stages of Brazil 2014, Euro 2016 and Russia 2018 – only France also figured in the quarter-finals of all three tournaments – no outfield players started more matches than Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel (all 15 – tied with Alderweireld).

In 2020-2021, the trio were restricted to 11, 36 and 18 club starts respectively.

Hazard, having dealt with a series of muscle problems, started from the bench on Saturday. De Bruyne (orbital fracture) and Witsel (torn Achilles tendon) are both still recovering.

"Those are players who have something extra," said Dries Mertens, who took up one of the vacant attacking roles. "To not have three players like that, we're going to feel that, but we have to step up and be ready."

Leander Dendoncker stepped in for Witsel and said: "Axel has such a massive role in the squad, so it's logical we're talking about him. Kevin and Eden aren't here now either, and we're all talking about their absence. It's normal; they've earned it."

But it was Lukaku who ensured that absence was not felt. His clinical opener wrecked Russian dreams and might have been quickly followed by a second had Georgi Dzhikiya not expertly intervened. There were two minutes remaining when he belatedly hit the net again for Belgium's third, celebrated in more traditional fashion.

The Nerazzurri superstar has now been involved in 26 goals (22 goals, four assists) in his 19 games for Belgium since the World Cup.

Of Lukaku's nine finals goals, only one has arrived in the knockout stages, but this early effort was crucial in seizing control of the group. On this form, he will surely also add to that tally.

For all that this was an impressive win as Hazard featured sparingly and two key midfielders not at all, there is an argument – at least from those studying their wallcharts – Belgium might actually be better served finishing second in their pool. That could potentially mean no repeat of 2018, when they landed in the trickier half of the draw and met France in the last four. The same scenario is very possible again from first place.

That was not something for Lukaku to worry about on this occasion, though.

His friend's welfare was of primary concern, and then a talismanic outing to lift spirits just a little at the end of a tough day for football.

Romelu Lukaku sent his support to Christian Eriksen after setting Belgium on their way to a 3-0 victory Russia in their Euro 2020 opener on Saturday.

Lukaku's Inter team-mate Eriksen is awake in hospital and undergoing tests after collapsing during Denmark's encounter with Finland in Copenhagen earlier in a traumatic second day of the tournament.

Red Devils record goalscorer Lukaku said "Chris, I love you" into a television camera following his opening goal in the Group B match at Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Thomas Meunier scored Belgium's second in the first half and the impressive Lukaku added a late third as the top-ranked side in the world moved level on points with Finland, 1-0 winners over Denmark in a game that resumed following encouraging news on Eriksen.

 

Kevin De Bruyne is progressing well in his injury recovery despite being ruled out of Belgium's Euro 2020 opener against Russia in St Petersburg.

Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne suffered fractures to his nose and orbital bone during last month's Champions League final defeat to Chelsea.

The sight of the 29-year-old being groggily helped from the field in Porto initially placed doubts over his participation at Euro 2020, but he has joined up with Roberto Martinez's squad.

Although Saturday's Group B opener comes too soon for De Bruyne, Martinez suggested he could feature before the end of the round robin stage, with the recently crowned PFA Footballer of the Year set to resume training alongside his team-mates when they return from their assignment at Krestovsky Stadium.

"It was always a medical direction. Kevin had to go through a few stages and he has been through those," the Belgium head coach explained at a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"Yesterday he had a very positive day on the grass but it wasn't with the group.

"The next two days will be really important to get him back into moving freely and starting to get the exercise that is needed before he can come to the group."

Another experienced member of Martinez's squad, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, is closing in on a return to action.

Witsel has not played competitive football since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in January but was still handed a place in the Red Devils' 26-man squad.

Like De Bruyne, he has not travelled to St Petersburg.

"The situation with Axel is very clear. He is part of the 26. His work in the past few days has been totally with the group and has been really satisfactory," Martinez said.

"Then we're going to take every day to try to add to that normality of Axel with the group. The decision not to travel to St Petersburg was to get another two days of work and then he will join the group again when we come back.

"From that point I don't expect Axel to miss a lot more."

He added: "Both players are following an individual programme. We're very happy with the progress in the last two days.

"Neither could join for tomorrow's game but both players are progressing really well and they're going to be with the group as soon as we come back."

Belgium will be keen to call upon De Bruyne's creative expertise as soon as possible.

Across 25 Premier League games in 2020-21, he delivered 12 assists at a rate of one every 167 – the most prolific return of any players to record three assists or more in England's top flight.

Roberto Martinez believes Belgium's players can handle the expectations of a potentially legacy-defining tournament as they prepare to open their Euro 2020 campaign against Russia in St Petersburg.

The Red Devils sit atop FIFA's world rankings, a position to which a lavishly gifted squad have become accustomed over the recent past.

However, an improvement upon their third-placed finish at the 2018 World Cup will be required to make good on their incredible promise.

Until that run under Martinez, quarter-final exits at Brazil 2014 and Euro 2016 went down as disappointments for the generation of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, the latter of whom will sit out the Group A opener alongside Axel Witsel.

"I'm sure that the last three years, when the team reaches the level of continuity and consistency that it's showed in the world rankings there is more expectation," Martinez told a pre-match news conference. "There are more neutral fans who follow the team.

"But that doesn't change anything for us. You grow from expectation within the team. The difficulty is the team we have in front of us. I don't think this team will suffer because of expectation."

Krestovsky Stadium was the scene of Belgium's narrow World Cup semi-final loss to France and their win over England in the third-place match three years ago.

A partisan crowd means Martinez expects a different feel this time around.

"There are no secrets between the two teams. We know Russia really well, as they know us really well," he added.

"We are in a magnificent stadium where there will be over 30,000 Russia fans. That's an element we have to overcome in this game."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Belgium – Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku re-established his reputation as one of the premier strikers in world football by firing Inter to Serie A glory this season. His 35 goal involvements (24 goals, 11 assists) were more than any other player managed in Italy's top-flight and he is very much in the Golden Boot conversation. Lukaku's capacity to create as well as score also bodes well in the absence of De Bruyne, as the Manchester City playmaker continues his recovery from facial injuries sustained during the Champions League final.

 

Russia – Artem Dzyuba

Russia have a powerhouse striker of their own in cult hero Dzyuba. An outspoken character, he was banished from international duty for a year before returning with three goals in a run to the World Cup quarter-finals on home soil in 2018.

The surfacing of an explicit video featuring Dzyuba threatened to derail him once again earlier this season, but he heads into Euro 2020 as captain of his country and their main threat after 20 league goals for Zenit – the second successive campaign he has finished as top scorer in the Russian Premier League. Only England's Harry Kane (17) was directly involved in more goals during qualification than Dzyuba (14 – nine goals, five assists).

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Belgium were one of only two teams – alongside Italy – to win all of their games in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign (10/10). They also scored more goals than any other team (40) while setting the joint-best defensive record of three goals conceded.

- No player delivered more assists than Eden Hazard in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, with all seven of those coming from open play. He was also the joint-top assist provider at Euro 2016 (4, level with Aaron Ramsey).

- Russia are winless in their last five matches at the European Championship (D2 L3), since a 4-1 win against Czech Republic in June 2012.

- Thibaut Courtois conceded an average of 0.74 goals per game in LaLiga in 2020-21 (28 in 38 appearances), the lowest ratio for a Real Madrid goalkeeper playing every match of the same top-flight season since Opta began collecting this data in 2005-06.

- Aleksandr Golovin was directly involved in 14 goals in 21 games in Ligue 1 in 2020-21 (five goals, nine assists). Only Andrey Arshavin (six goals, 11 assists with Arsenal in 2010-11) has had more goal involvements among Russian players in the top-five European leagues over the past 15 seasons. Monaco won 41 per cent of their league games without Golovin on the pitch this season, winning 81 per cent when he was involved.

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