Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens lead Belgium to 3-0 win against Panama

Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen are battling injuries

England, winners on football's biggest stage more than half a century ago, crashed out without a win four years ago in Brazil, and haven't won a knock-out match in any tournament since 2006.

Both nations had their best performances on home soil but Russian Federation is only next-door-but-one as it borders neighbours Norway and North Korea - perhaps this will be their year?

Even though neither player will be fit for the opening game, Belgium made a decision to send standby defender Laurent Ciman home on Saturday.

"We have a good team, a great selection", Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld said. "I am not expecting an easy game", he said. "Panama had one or two counter-attacks; you know you have to defend well when that happens", the head coach explained.

Eden Hazard hit the side netting after pouncing on a loose backpass from Roman Torres, Panama's captain making amends with a terrific touch on a low De Bruyne right-wing cross that ensured Lukaku could not tap in at the back post.

Jun 18, 2018; Volgograd, Russia; English forward Harry Kane celebrates after he scores his second goal of the match, allowing England to beat Tunisia 2-1 in stoppage time.

All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life. All going to plan for these sides, first place will be up for grabs. But I don't think they have the quality we have.

That means Kompany would also sit out Belgium's game against Tunisia next weekend, but would be back for their potentially crucial last group encounter against England in Kaliningrad on 28 June.

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If a World Cup cannot inspire a nation, then I'm not sure what can", said the English FA technical director Dan Ashworth. But a chat with the player saw a greatly improved performance against the Central Americans.

The Belgium worldwide has shown just how far he's come. The match started and the team felt all these emotions.

Sweden beat France in qualifying and finished ahead of the Netherlands who failed to make it to Russian Federation.

The Swedes proved their solid organisation in the play-off win against Italy, frustrating the Azzurri.

Sweden also got their campaign off to a winning start, beating South Korea 1-0 by way of a penalty awarded by the VAR.

They will need to summon the spirit of their 2002 home heroics in order to extricate themselves from what is arguably 2018's toughest group.

"Fortunately it didn't happen what everybody thought it would happen, which was for us to lose by six or seven goals", Panama coach Hernan Gomez said. The pre-World Cup was good and I had some good games in the friendlies. He plays at Celtic and has enough experience.

After a goalless first half, Belgium ranked third in the world, finally broke Panama's resistance when Dries Mertens steered in a spectacular volley.

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