As the Parken Stadium roared on its Danish heroes at the sound of the national anthem, the events in Copenhagen were marked by the overwhelming train of events that occurred over their talisman Christian Eriksen. A huge choreograph of the Danish shirt commemorating the Nerazzurri midfielder was on show and the adrenaline and sense of urgency the Danes had in performing for their star man could be seen from the beginning of the game.
The Parken Stadium saw their men capitalize on an early error from Belgian Defender Jason Denayer whose lackluster pass was capitalized and coolly finished by Yusuf Poulsen in just the 2nd minute. As Denmark kept applying the pressure, football’s show of solidarity and the beauty of the game showcased itself in the unilateral show of support players and fans had in the 10’ minute. The play was halted to applaud medics and life in honor of Christian Eriksen.
As the half went on, Danish ascendancy continued, with particular emphasis on the left-hand side namely Joakim Maehle and Mikkel Damsgaard who caused the Belgians’ great problems. The supposed favorites for the tournament Belgium were placed in a tough position from the first half, starman Romelu Lukaku’s lack of action intertwined with a Danish side with energy and most importantly in front of a home crowd shunned the Belgians into a quiet half.
As the second half started the Belgians became more alike themselves, the return of Kevin De Bruyne inspired the Belgians, and the Manchester City midfielder played a key role in returning the Belgians to a pole position in the match and group.
Along with De Bruyne, both Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard took to the pitch, representing the depth and quality of the Belgian side. Belgian quality was to show in the 54’ where intricate play from De Bruyne and power and finesse of Romelu Lukaku showcased itself for the assist and great finish by Thorgan Hazard who leveled the match 1-1, silencing the crowd for a tense final third of the match.
Belgium’s sheer personnel and moments of magic got them through the match which was again seen in the link-up play between Real Madrid star Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, which saw play stretched and a pass to De Bruyne saw the ball rocket into the net for 2-1 in the 70’ minute. Though coming close in the final few minutes, namely with an attempt hitting the bar in the 88’ minute from Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite, the Danish efforts were in vain. With 0 points, the Danes hope for a miracle to take them through to the next stage of the tournament.
Writer’s Choice MOTM: Kevin De Bruyne
After a bland first half for one of the tournament’s favorites, Belgium’s change and personnel showed to be the catalyst for change in the second half. The introduction of Kevin De Bruyne in the 46’ minute inspired the Belgians to victory and his sole intricacy and magnificence single-handedly changed the match. His world-class talent showcased itself in his role in the first goal with two jinxes within the penalty area followed by a divine vision to find Thorgan Hazard for the goal that leveled the match.
De Bruyne’s role in the middle of the pitch changed the match creating 2 big chances with one being the incisive pass that set up Thorgan Hazard for the goal. Moreover, De Bruyne’s ability to carry the ball showed itself in his 5 long-range dribbles which were all successfully executed.
Alongside this, his power and precision also showed how the midfielder scored outside the box following a first-time pass from Eden Hazard which rocketed into the bottom corner past Kasper Schmeichel who was left in awe of the Manchester City wonder.
Author: Arnov Paul Choudhury ( @ArnovPaul01 )
Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne’s Impact off the Bench
Belgium went into the second half trailing 1-0 to Denmark courtesy of a brilliant combination by Yussuf Poulsen and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. Kevin de Bruyne was brought into the pitch on the 46th minute by replacing Dries Mertens. The impact of this substitution was instantly seen as Belgium’s gameplay got the flair it was lacking in the first half.
The Manchester City midfielder created instant impact by assisting Belgium’s equalizer from a Thorgan Hazard goal. It was a brilliant counterattack led by Lukaku. He cut the ball back at the edge of the box and de Bruyne played in a calm pass for Thorgan Hazard to score. De Bruyne had 36 touches in the game and made 27 passes with an accuracy of 74.1%.
Eden Hazard was brought in the pitch in the 59th minute to replace Yannick Carrasco. His substitution gave the Belgians the extra centrality that they needed. It also gave them extra technicality up top and an actual goal threat. Hazard’s passes at times were very dangerous, making 26 touches in the game and 24 passes with an accuracy of 91.7%.
A Look Ahead
The Danish hopes of going through to the round of 16 remain slim, relying on events in the Belgium x Finland match to go their way, however for the Belgians; they are already through. Belgium will still remain favorites for some, however, though it was a prolific performance from their talisman Kevin De Bruyne they will need to tighten up at the back, particularly in the business end of the competition.
Author: Arnov Paul Choudhury ( @ArnovPaul01 )