In the space of sixteen minutes Belgium’s second-half substitute, Kevin De Bruyne, returning from facial surgery, assisted on one goal and scored another to bring his team back from a 0-1 deficit to Denmark. The two goals would transform the scoreline from a loss to a 2-1 win, in a Group B Euro 2020 match at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium.
The 25,000 fans allowed were mostly wearing the Danish red, cheering for their players against the number one ranked team in the world, and keeping Christian Eriksen in mind with banners and salutes. The Belgians joined the salutes and at match’s end shared heartfelt personal moments with their opponents on the pitch.
The emotional match, the first since Eriksen’s on-pitch heart attack just a few days prior, began with a bang for Denmark as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg intercepted a poor defensive pass near the Belgian box and fed Yussuf Poulsen. His immediately taken, perfect shot at the second minute caught Thibaut Courtois out for the early lead.
The Danes were riding a wave of emotion brought about by the seeming recovery of their stricken teammate and played one of the best matches of their storied history, keeping their superior opponents on their backheels for the entire first half.
In the second half, Belgian coach, Roberto Martinez, brought in his big guns, and they immediately changed the game. De Bruyne came in at the 46th minute and at the 54th provided a sublime assist for Thorgan Hazard to draw the teams even.
Belgium’s first goal was a De Bruyne masterpiece. Romelu Lukaku streaked down the right side and once in the box, drew his marker wide while passing back to the trailing De Bruyne. Lukaku had dropped off to an open teammate but one who had a lot of work to do to make something of the potential opportunity if only he could act before the three defenders near him could close him down.
Receiving the ball inside the box, close into the Danish goal, and surrounded by three defenders, De Bruyne faked a shot, lifted the ball past the first sliding defender, and then passed left, between the other two Danes, to find an unmarked Thorgan Hazard for the tying tap-in score.
At the 59th minute, Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard joined the party and the field slanted toward the Danish goal. Eleven minutes later an inspired Belgium reacted and Lukaku, on the right-wing, turned in on a parallel to goal along the edge of the box and found Youri Tielemans with a square pass, Tielemans turned to find Thorgan Hazard who passed to Eden Hazard, who laid off for De Bruyne to take a marvelous left-footed shot from just outside the box to culminate the beautiful team-play for the winning goal.
Ukraine 2-1 North Macedonia
Earlier today, Ukraine and North Macedonia met at Arena Na?ionala, in Bucharest, Romania. With two goals in the first half, Andriy Yarmolenko (at the 29th) and Roman Yaremchuk (at the 34th), Ukraine defeated a brave and tough playing North Macedonia 2-1 in their Group C Euro 2020 match. Ezgjan Alioski’s 57th-minute score concluded the match’s action which effectively eliminated North Macedonia from the tournament with one match to go.
In prior action
Russia 1-0 Finland
Yesterday, at Krestovsky Stadium, in St. Petersburg, Russia, the host nation played Finland in a Group B match and Aleksei Miranchuk’s strike at the 45th+2 settled the contest in favor of Russia who now pull ahead of Finland on the head-to-head tiebreaker. After Belgium’s subsequent win, the Russians are placed second to Belgium with Finland a possible third-place knockout round contender.