Belgium will enter Euro 2020 on the back of a victory as Romelu Lukaku scored to give Roberto Martinez's side a well-deserved win over Croatia in Brussels.
The in-form Inter forward struck in the 38th-minute, hooking home from close range following Dries Mertens' cross. Just minutes earlier he was denied by the crossbar having controlled on his chest before firing at goal from the edge of the box, with Yannick Carrasco seeing his header on the follow-up also crashing against the woodwork.
Croatia - England's first opponents in the tournament - had started the opening quarter of the match well, dominating the early possession without creating a clear cut opportunity and by half-time Zlatko Dalic's side had yet to have a shot on target.
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Belgium continued to look dangerous after the restart as Carrasco missed the target from close range and Lukaku saw his bullet header saved, somehow, by the excellent Dominik Livakovic in the later stages.
The visitors were more adventurous in the second half but despite their endeavour, failed to test Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois until Josip Brekalo had his shot saved in injury-time. They lack a genuine out-and-out goalscorer and it showed throughout the match.
Victory sets up Martinez's men for their opening match against Russia on Saturday night, while Croatia travel to Wembley for their first match of the tournament the following day.
TALKING POINT - A productive night for Lukaku and Co
It wasn't a polished performance by the Belgians, but Martinez will certainly take plenty of positives from tonight. None more so than the performance of Lukaku, who is in the form of his life right now. So far, Belgium's 'golden generation' have yet to live up to their potential. They may be ranked the world's number 1 but when it has really mattered, the Red Devils haven't produced. If they're to finally go the whole way, Lukaku will be central to it.
But they're far from a one-man team. Kevin de Bruyne is likely to miss the opening match through injury, but Carrasco is an able replacement and was lively in his absence. Eden Hazard came on for his first international appearance since November 2019 and although he only played nine minutes, he showed some tidy footwork. They have plenty of options and firepower.
In contrast, Croatia appear to be toothless in attack. Zlatko Dalic's side can undoubtedly be a match for anyone on their day, but you need goals to win games. Based on this performance, England and Scotland do not have a lot to fear.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
There is no other contender for the Man of the Match award - the 28-year-old was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch. Every time he got on the ball he made something happen, as he looks set to transfer his breathtaking club form onto the international stage.
Croatia: Livakovic 7, Barisic 6, Caleta-Car 6, Vida 6, Vrsaljko 6, Kovacic 5, Brozovic 6, Modric 8, Perisic 6, Petkovic 6, Rebic 6.. subs: Brekalo 5, Kramaric 5, Vlasic 5, Pasalic 5, Orsic N/A, Gvardiol 7.
Belgium: Courtois 6, Alderweireld 6, Denayer 7, Vertonghen 7, Castagne 6, Tielemans 7, Dendoncker 6, Chadli 7, Mertens 7, Carrasco 7, Lukaku 9.. subs: Vermaelen 6, E Hazard N/A, T Hazard 5, Vanaken 5, Doku N/A.
31' - Off the woodwork, twice! Oh my, how have Belgium not scored?! It's a chance out of nothing really as Lukaku controls a long ball on his chest, swivels and gets a shot away from 25 yards. It crashes off the woodwork and on the follow-up Carrasco then sees his header bounce off the crossbar.
38' - GOAL! Belgium 1-0 Croatia (Romelu Lukaku): The opening goal been coming and it's absolutely no surprise that it's Lukaku who grabs it. Croatia fail to clear their lines from a corner, Mertens keeps it alive as he floats a cross to the far post, Vertonghen rises highest to nod it on, Denayer wins his header and Lukaku hooks it home from point-blank range.
52' - Carrasco should score! Having hit the crossbar in the first half, Carrasco really should be on the scoresheet now, as he controls a cross from the right flank but his shot from close range is always rising and fails to test Livakovic.
89' - What a save! You would put your house on Lukaku scoring his second here as he attacks Vanaken's pin-point cross but Livakovic somehow makes the save from point-blank range and then reacts quickest to scramble the ball clear before Lukaku can poke home the rebound.
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