Matchday 2 rolls on in Euro 2020 as Denmark returned to the pitch for the first full match since midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed in their opening match against Finland. Denmark lost against Finland 1-0 after resuming the match over an hour after Eriksen was transported to a hospital in Copenhagen.
They took on Belguim, who dominated Russia 3-0 on Saturday with a brace from Eriksen’s Inter Milan teammate, Romelu Lukaku. Belguim came into Thursday’s match at Copenhagen looking to lock their place in the knockout round.
To start Matchday 2 in Group B, Russia defeated Finland 1-0 on Wednesday after Aleksei Miranchuk’s strike at the end of the first half. Russia took three points, tying Finland in points and goal differential.
As Belgium and Denmark prepared to square off on Thursday, they made an agreement pre-match to stop play during the 10th minute and deliver a round of applause for Eriksen, who continues to recover in the hospital. They did so, delivering an emotional scene in front of the Dannish supporters at Copenhagen.
Denmark started the match full of emotion, determined to win for Eriksen. In the second minute of the match, Dannish striker Yussuf Poulsen capitalized on a Belgian turnover, slotting a shot past the outstretched arms of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to give Denmark a 1-0 lead.
Throughout the first half, Belgium, who is the top-ranked international team in the FIFA rankings, looked sluggish, not creating the chances with their pace and playmaking many are accustomed to seeing from them.
Denmark, on the other hand, created plenty of chances to double their lead. Eriksen’s replacement, Mikkel Damsgaard, ignited a potent Dannish attack in the first half, setting up opportunities to score and controlling the pace of play. Denmark headed into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium’s superstar midfielder, subbed in for Dries Mertens to start the second half.
De Bruyne immediately changed the flow of the match, allowing Belgium to get into a rhythm. In the 55th minute, Lukaku found De Bruyne on a counterattack. De Bruyne delivered a perfect pass to winger Thorgan Hazard, who tapped it into the back of the net to give Belgium the equalizer.
With Eden Hazard subbing into the second half alongside midfielder Axel Witsel, Belgium’s attack began to control the match and leave Denmark on their heels. In the 70th minute, a flurry of touch passes from Belgium set up De Bruyne, who smashed the ball past Dannish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel with his left foot to give Belgium the 2-1 lead.
Denmark pushed for an equalizer as striker Martin Braithwaite and Mathias Jensen produced many opportunities, but could not find the back of the net.
Belgium won the match 2-1 for the first come-from-behind win of Euro 2020. De Bruyne, who fractured his nose during the Champions League Final a few weeks ago, made an instant impact in his first Euro 2020 action. Belgium found their rhythm after a sluggish first half and have locked in a spot in the round of 16.
Denmark played valiantly against FIFA’s top-ranked team. They outplayed Belgium in the first half and pushed for their second goal throughout the match, finding opportunities in Belgium’s zone. They have now dropped their first two matches in Euro 2020. However, they are not eliminated from the knockout stage as a win over Russia on Monday, coupled with a Belgium win over Finland at the same time, would allow Denmark to finish second in the group and advance to the knockout round if they win the goal differential battle with Finland.
On Monday, Group B concludes with Belgium taking on Finland and Denmark battling Russia at noon EST.