Belgium beat Denmark 2-1 in a Euro 2020 Group B match on Thursday. The victory, Belgium’s second of the tournament, allowed Belgium to secure a place in the round of 16. They became the second team after Italy to do so.
The match took place under highly emotional circumstances following the on-field cardiac arrest of Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen on Saturday. Eriksen suffered the cardiac arrest while representing Denmark as they played against Finland.
Inspired by the well-wishes of the football world, Denmark got off to a quick start and scored the opening goal within the first two minutes of the match. Belgium’s Jason Denayer committed a turnover; Danish striker Pierre-Emile Højbjerg then took possession and set up Yussuf Poulsen. Poulsen’s shot easily made its way into the bottom corner of the net.
In the 10th minute, a break in the action to honour Eriksen was observed. Players and fans at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen participated in a minute’s applause. A banner in support of Eriksen and his recovery was also unfurled.
Upon resumption of proceedings, Denmark continued to remain in control. Joakim Mæhle and Mikkel Damsgaard both missed chances to give Denmark a 2-0 lead. These misses allowed the score to remain 1-0 at halftime.
Soon after the break, Belgium’s superstar midfielder Kevin De Bruyne entered the match. He came in as a substitute, replacing Dries Mertens. De Bruyne did not start in order to avoid overexertion following a recent injury.
It did not take long for De Bruyne to show why he is one of the world’s best players. In the 54th minute, the Manchester City player set up Thorgan Hazard with a perfectly-judged pass. Hazard converted the ensuing goalscoring opportunity to equalize.
Sixteen minutes later, De Bruyne would put his own name on the scoresheet. A complex sequence of passes involving Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans, and Eden Hazard eventually ended with De Bruyne receiving the ball. De Bruyne then launched a low shot which beat Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, putting Belgium ahead.
Denmark almost equalized when Martin Braithwaite attempted a header. However, his attempt struck the crossbar, thus keeping Belgium’s lead intact. It was the last meaningful chance of the match.
Speaking about the emotional atmosphere that pervaded the match, Lukaku said, “I had to put my feelings to one side in the first half because I was thinking of Christian. I respect (the Denmark players) as men. They saved my friend’s life and I appreciate that. Their character today was incredible.” Lukaku and Eriksen are teammates at Inter Milan.
Belgium’s third and final group match will be against Finland on Monday. Denmark, meanwhile, will attempt to keep their qualification hopes alive when they play against Russia. That match also takes place on Monday.
18th June 2021 16:55
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