A sensational volley by Dries Mertens and a Romelu Lukaku double fired Belgium to a 3-0 win against World Cup debutants Panama in a Group G fixture at the Fisht Stadium, Sochi on Monday. Panama held Belgium at bay until two minutes after the restart when Mertens broke the deadlock, with Lukaku's brace completing a smooth win for Roberto Martinez's team in their Group G opener. Earlier, in the first half, Belgium, the favourites in the match, started attacking from the word go but nothing came out of it as the Panama defence passed the test with flying colors. Even though Belgium enjoyed most of the possession, Panama interrupted their flow of the game with occasional counter attacks. The Red Devils received seven corners but the Panama defence denied them any opportunity to cash in. Panama keeper Jaime Penedo was clearly the hero of the first half making some fantastic saves to deny the Belgians and leave them frustrated. As far as Belgium are concerned, they need to up their game and be more clinical in the final third. (Highlights: Belgium vs Panama)
Highlights of 2018 FIFA World Cup, Belgium vs Panama, straight from Fisht Stadium
22:30 IST: Thank you for joining us for the Belgium vs Panama match. Please follow the Tunisia vs England match here.
22:24 IST: FT! Belgium 3-0 Panama. Panama's dream debut ends with a defeat.
22:20 IST: Four minutes of added time. Panama's repeated attacks are being negated by the Belgium's defence.
22:17 IST: Three minute remain. Kevin De Bruyne gets booked for a high boot. Panama get a free-kick. Fidel Escobar takes the free-kick as it goes straight to Courtois at the post.
22:12 IST: Substitution for Belgium -- Thorgan Hazard comes in place of Dries Mertens.
22:10 IST: 10 minutes remain in the game. It seems Belgium will start their World Cup campaign with full three points.
22:04 IST: GOOAAALLLLL! Axel Witsel clears the ball from the Belgium defence and passes the ball to Hazard, who makes the run with the ball. Lukaku gets a clean pass from Hazard inside the D as he guides the ball past Penedo. Lukaku scores his second of the night. Belgium 3-0 Panama after 75 minutes.
22:03 IST: Substitution for Belgium -- Mousa Dembele comes in place for Yannick Carrasco
21:58 IST: GOOAAALLLL!! Romelu Lukaku doubles Belgium's lead. De Bruyne, inside the box, curls the ball in towards the far post for Lukaku who heads the ball in past the keeper | Belgium 2-0 Panama after 69 minutes.
21:54 IST: 64th minute -- Belgium get a free-kick in a dangerous position. Kevin De Bruyne lines up his spot kick but fires it straight in the wall.
21:52 IST: Double substitution for Panama. Gabriel Torres replaces Barcenas and Jose Rodriguez makes way for Ismael diaz
21:50 IST: 60 minutes are up and Panama are desperately to find an equaliser.
21:46 IST: Anibal Godoy become the fifth Panamanian to get booked in the game.
21:43 IST: Panama's Michael Murillo gets a great chance to level the scores but his shot is well stopped by Thibaut Courtois. Defender Jan Vertonghen seems to be furious with his teammates.
21:36 IST: GOOAAALLLL!!! The breakthrough is achieved in the 47th minute. After a below par free-kick from De Bruyne is cleared away from the Panama defence, the Red Devils go on the counter attack. Dries Mertens receives a juicy volley just outside the box and he drills it with all his power past the keeper. The ball gets buried in the top left corner of the Panama goal.
21:35 IST: The Second half of the game begins!
21:17 IST: End of first half | Belgium 0-0 Panama.
21:15 IST: Two minutes of added time in the first half of the game.
21:10 IST: 38th minute -- Lukaku makes a run inside the box but Penedo comes out of his post and clears the ball away with his leg. The Panama defence is being tested here at the Fisht Stadium and it will not be wrong to say that they have passed the test with flying colours till now.
21:08 IST: 35th minute -- Jaime Penedo is certainly being kept on his toes. Eden Hazard takes a powerful shot at the Panama near post as Penedo punches the ball away for a corner.
21:06 IST: Panama get their first corner in the 35th minute of the game. Edgar Barcenas takes the corner but Belgium have nothing to worry about as the ball is cleared away. Kevin De Bruyne makes the corner attack, long ball from De Bruyne fails to reach any of his team members.
21:02 IST: 30 minutes are up and Belgium still can't find a way past Panama. It must be frustrating for the Red Devils. They are dominating possession but nothing to show for it yet.
21:01 IST: Trivia -- Belgium have only conceded one goal in their last five encounters.
20:56 IST: 25 minutes in the game. Belgium are finding it difficult to keep the possession of the ball. Meanwhile, Panama are making occasional counter attacks which are being cleaned by the Belgian defence. Belgium have got their chances but none of those were converted.
20:52 IST: 20th minute -- Kevin De Bruyne makes a run down the right flank and provides a low cross for Lukaku who was ready to pounce. Roman Torres intercepts and gets enough boot as the ball flies away for a corner. Belgium get a corner. A little miscalculation would've seen Belgium get an early lead, courtesy Torres own goal.
20:50 IST: Thomas Meunier wins Belgium a corner. Dries Mertens, inside the penalty box, takes his shot but the ball is wide of the target
20:45 IST: Yellow card -- Thomas Meunier of Belgium gets booked.
20:42 IST: Belgium come close to take an early lead in the game in the 10th minute of the game. Roman Torres, the Panama captain, intercepts the ball and tries to pass to the keeper inside the D. Hazard, who was lurking around, gets to the under-hit pass and tries to put his past the keeper but fails. This mistake could've proved dear for Panama.
20:39 IST: Within two minutes, Belgium have pierced the Panama defence. And the keeper blocked both the shots. Jaime Penedo, the Panama keeper, will be very busy tonight.
20:34 IST: The first free-kick of the game goes to Panama, Erick Davis takes the shot and Thibaut Courtois collects the ball with ease. No worry there for the Belgian keeper.
20:31 IST: Belgium is attacking from the word go. Kevin De Bruyne gets his first touch of the ball and a pass is made to Yannick Carrasco, who puts the ball in for Lukaku. The Panama defence clears the ball with ease. However, Romelu Lukaku can not believe that Belgium did not get a corner.
20:30 IST: Panama in white, get us underway and history is created.
20:23 IST: The two teams walk out to middle as fans cheer for their respective teams on top of their voice. The national anthems for both teams are also being played.
20:15 IST: We are minutes away from the Kick-off. Stay tuned!
20:08 IST: Belgium and Panama team formation!
20:06 IST: Fun fact -- Kompany is replaced by Boyata, who is one of his best friends. They both grew up in Brussels and spent almost six years together at Manchester City.
20:05 IST: The FIFA World Cup debutants, Panama, are here
20:00 IST: The Red Devils have arrived
19:40 IST: So, Group F after one round of fixtures
19:35 IST: Here is the starting XI for Belgium and Panama
19:33 IST: Meanwhile, in Sochi
19:31 IST: In the earlier match of the day, Sweden beat South Korea 1-0 at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
19:30 IST: Hello and welcome to the live blog of the match between Belgium and Panama straight from Fisht Stadium
All going to plan for these sides, first place will be up for grabs. Then there are Martinez's past links to the Premier League and the presence of Thierry Henry and Englishman Graeme Jones on his coaching staff. The majority of his squad either play or have played in England, but for now, Martinez is only thinking about Panama.