Dries Mertens scored a stunning volley and Romelu Lukaku was twice on target as Belgium started their Group G campaign with a 3-0 defeat of World Cup debutants Panama in Sochi.
Belgium impressed in an unbeaten qualifying campaign, becoming the first European nation to book their place at Russia 2018.
But Roberto Martinez's side struggled to break Panama down in a flat first half at the Fisht Stadium on Monday, requiring a moment of magic from Mertens to break the deadlock in the 47th minute.
Panama almost mustered a rapid leveller but Thibaut Courtois made a smart stop to keep out a low strike from Michael Murillo, before Lukaku struck twice in six minutes to settle the contest.
Lukaku nodded in a sensational Kevin De Bruyne pass and the Manchester United striker then scored a cute chip, though Panama can take heart from a promising display ahead of games against England and Tunisia.
Martinez's golden generation have been tipped as potential champions, but Belgium - beaten by Wales in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals - will likely need to improve on an often-underwhelming performance when they face stronger opposition.
Panama made a nervy start to their World Cup bow with Yannick Carrasco and Mertens forcing early saves from goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
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.
Hazard fired wide in the 26th minute and the Chelsea forward, who hinted pre-match he could be interested in joining Real Madrid, was left hobbling by heavy challenges from Murillo and Torres.
The Belgium captain, deputising for the injured Vincent Kompany, shook off the blows and forced Penedo into a save with his legs, as Panama remained relatively comfortable.
Belgium struggled to create clear openings in the first period but within two minutes of the restart they led thanks to an early contender for the goal of the tournament.
Panama failed to clear their lines properly and when the ball fell to Mertens on the right side of the penalty area, the Napoli forward thumped a dipping volley that flew past Penedo.
De Bruyne almost swiftly doubled the lead but narrowly missed the target with a 25-yard free-kick that curled away from Penedo's right-hand post.
When wing-back Carrasco switched off at the back, allowing Edgar Barcenas' pass to drift over his head, Courtois had to be alert to smother an effort from Murillo.
That proved to be Panama's best chance of claiming a draw and Belgium doubled their lead in the 69th minute after VAR ruled Lukaku was marginally onside.
Hazard and De Bruyne combined brilliantly on the edge of the box, the latter's sublime floated cross to the back post providing Lukaku - who hit 11 goals in qualifying - a simple headed finish.
And when Panama lost possession in their own half, Belgium sprung a clinical counter-attack with Hazard's pass perfectly timed for Lukaku to run clear and lift a fine finish over the onrushing Penedo, showing Belgium will be a World Cup threat if they hit top gear.
Key Opta stats:
- Belgium are now unbeaten in their last 10 World Cup group games (W5 D5 L0), winning each of their last five.
- Each of the last 11 goals that Belgium have scored in World Cup matches have come after half-time.
- Belgium have won all 13 international matches that Dries Mertens has scored in.
- Romelu Lukaku has been directly involved in 13 of Belgium's last 19 goals (11 goals, two assists).
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 16 goals in his last 15 appearances for Belgium (eight goals, eight assists).
|Keep your cool, Virat – Paine and Kohli in another confrontation|
|Depleted Nuggets complete season sweep of Raptors|
|Fabinho was ´outstanding´, says Klopp|
|Patriots QB Brady on loss to Steelers: We aren´t playing well enough to win|
|Elliott says Cowboys´ shut-out loss to Colts was embarrassing|
|De Bruyne not worried about Liverpool title challenge|
|Sixers star Simmons makes history with triple-double|
|WATCH: Nowitzki receives standing ovation in first home game of season|
|Seattle´s playoff spot on hold after Seahawks suffer OT loss to 49ers|
|Cheika survives as Wallabies coach, Johnson appointed|
|Vikings remain in NFC playoff picture|
|Steelers stay ahead as Patriots lose AFC´s second seed|
|Lionel Messi is the best, says Amor|
|I´m still tired just looking at Robertson – Mourinho in awe of Liverpool intensity|
|Casillas takes swipe at Mourinho after United lose to Liverpool|
|Valverde relieved as Messi brilliance prevents another Levante nightmare|
|WATCH: Leno proposes to girlfriend after Bears clinch division title|
|Messi and Suarez the world´s best strike partnership, says Pique|
|Klopp: I cannot keep every Liverpool player happy|
|Messi and Suarez outscoring Real Madrid and Atletico in LaLiga|
|Levante 0 Barcelona 5: Marvellous Messi banishes ghosts of last season|
|Colts rout Cowboys to keep playoff hopes alive|
|Bears shake off Packers to win NFC North and return to playoffs|
|Mourinho explains Pogba omission and defends Lukaku´s Liverpool showing|
|Liverpool´s display against Manchester United one of the best, claims Klopp|
|Look away Jose! Damning stats expose Manchester United´s limp Liverpool loss|
|Time´s up, Mourinho: Manchester United can dither no longer|
|Manchester United´s players are not dishonest – Mourinho|
|Manchester United´s lack of ambition under Mourinho is scary – Keane|
|Mourinho: All Manchester United can achieve is fourth|
|Quagliarella should be protected by UNESCO, jokes Sampdoria coach|
|Manchester United surpass last season´s goals-against tally in first 17 games|
|Hasenhuttl revels in ´unbelievable´ victory over Arsenal|
|Liverpool 3 Manchester United 1: Shaqiri´s late show bails out Alisson as Reds return to the top|
|Edinburgh in control in Champions Cup, Racing win again|
|Emery ponders January signing after Bellerin injury|
|It is only a knock – Sarri plays down Hazard injury fears|
|Redskins QB Alex Smith released from hospital|
|Starc: If I listen to Warne, I may as well retire|
|Curry interviews retired NASA astronaut, apologises for moon comments|
|Hazard refusing to give up on Premier League title hopes|
|Ziyech & Blind score hat-tricks as Ajax claim 8-0 win|
|Canelo v Fielding: What next for three-weight champion Alvarez?|
|Southampton 3 Arsenal 2: Austin and Ings end Gunners´ long unbeaten run|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Chelsea 2: Sensational Hazard proves the difference|
|Pogba on the bench as Clyne starts for Liverpool|
|Lipsky ends long barren spell in Malelane|
|Lakers´ Stephenson to repeat air guitar despite technical|
|Fletcher pushed Miller on to Broncos sack record|
|The Sarri effect: Hazard surpasses 2017-18 goal involvements in just 16 games|
|Van der Burgh retires on a high note with breaststroke double|
|Rashford: Liverpool was never an option|
|No team Liverpool play this season will be as motivated as Man United – Klopp|
|India surprised by contentious Kohli decision - Bumrah|
|The Sunday Seven - 7 Key Opta facts for NFL Week 15|
|Miller eyeing Joshua bout at Madison Square Garden|
|Finch cleared of serious damage after another finger blow|
|Rashford ´untouchable´ because he plays on his limits – Mourinho|
|It´s important to have his mentality - Mayfield thrilled with Kobe Bryant visit as Browns beat Bronc|
|Centurion Latham indebted to ´world-class´ Williamson|
|Spurs´ Dier out until January after appendix removal|
|A-League Review: Glory down Jets to stay unbeaten|
|Philander ruled out of first Test|
|Controversial Kohli dismissal puts Australia in command|
|Thunder´s Westbrook: ´When we defend like that — best team in the league´|
|Kante at his best further forward, reiterates Sarri|
|Rose capitulates in Indonesia to squander chance to top rankings|
|Fielding: The better man won but I lived a dream|
|Rallying Bulls stun Spurs, LeBron and Ball post triple-doubles|
|Latham century puts New Zealand in commanding position|