De Bruyne, who was missing Belgium in the 3-0 opening win over Russia due to injury, delivered the assist to the 1-1 equalizer by Thorgen Hazard (55th) in front of 25,000 spectators after his substitution at break. A quarter of an hour later, the 29-year-old proved his accuracy with the winning goal to make it 2-1 (70th). Before that, the Danes had dominated the game in the first half, which was characterized by expressions of solidarity with Christian Eriksen, who had collapsed in the opening game, and had already taken the lead after 99 seconds through Yussuf Poulsen.
The European champions from 1992 still had a good chance of equalizing in the finish, but still suffered the second defeat in the second game after the 0: 1 against Finland. Thanks to the 1-0 defeat of the Finns against Russia on Wednesday in the fight for a ticket for the round of the best 16, Denmark is not yet out of the race. However, the Scandinavians need a clear victory in a direct duel with the Russians at the end of the group stage on Monday. Belgium, who face Finland in their last game on Monday in St. Petersburg, can only theoretically be ousted from a place in the round of 16 with a maximum of six points after two games.
Dream start for Denmark (2nd minute)
Yussuf Poulsen shoots Denmark in the lead after just 99 seconds. The second fastest goal in European Championship history is ultimately too little for the hosts.
Danes are changing the system
Denmark team boss Kasper Hjulmand also changed his system slightly against Belgium, but not only because of the drama about Eriksen, who collapsed in cardiac arrest in the game against Finland but was successfully reanimated on the pitch. Mikkel Damsgaard and Jannik Vestergaard joined the team for Eriksen and striker Jonas Wind. Because Eriksen as a player type and his position could not be replaced one-to-one, Hjulmand changed his opening system from 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3.
With the Belgians, however, there was no reason to change much, after all, the system had worked as desired in the 3-0 victory over Russia. Above all, striker Romelu Lukaku, friend and teammate of Eriksen at Inter Milan, had underlined his top form with two goals. The “Red Devils” only saw new faces on the bench. Because with De Bruyne, who had broken his face in the final of the Champions League at the end of May, and Axel Witsel, who was still missing from the squad against the Russians, two prominent “jokers” were available this time. This time Belgium’s King Philippe sat in the stands.
Greetings to the hospital and a quick start
The duel in the Parken Stadium was also dominated by the Inter-Legionnaire Eriksen. Before kick-off, an oversized body with the Dane’s number 10 was spread out on the field, then captain Simon Kjaer received a jersey signed by all Belgian players with the wish “Get well soon” for Eriksen. After ten minutes, as announced by the teams before the game, the players stopped the game and then, together with his fellow players and the audience, sent Eriksen wellbeing wishes by applause to Rigshospitalet, which is just a 15-minute walk away.
At this point, the 29-year-old might still have the cheers from the second minute in his ears. Because his teammates got off to a dream start against number one in the FIFA world rankings. After a Belgian defensive mistake, Poulsen gave Thibaut Curtois no chance with a well-placed shot in the left corner just 99 seconds after kick-off. Only the Russian Dmitri Kiritschenko had scored faster (65 seconds) than the Leipzig legionnaire at a European Championship against Greece in 2004. Driven by the audience, the Danes even had the chance to top it off right away. But this time Joakim Maehle (5th) and Daniel Wass (6th) found their master in Curtois.
Even after the voluntary break, Denmark remained the dominant team. There was still no sign of the quick combinations that the Belgians had shaken off their feet against Russia. Even after half an hour, striker Lukaku had not received a usable ball in his direction. David Alaba’s future team-mate at Real Madrid Curtois had to be much more careful than his counterpart Kasper Schmeichel. For example, with a full shot from Damsgaard, who just missed the left post (35th). On the Belgian side, an inaccurate free-kick cross by Yannick Carrasco (44th) was still the most dangerous action.
De Bruyne inspires Belgium
At the break, Robert Martinez reacted to the pale appearance of his “Red Devils” and pimped the offensive with his superstar De Bruyne. The move also worked out promptly. De Bruyne passed the ball on to Hazard after a burst of energy and a Stanglpass from Lukaku on the right side with a simple touch, who only had to push in from close range to equalize (55th). An attack like out of a picture book, there was nothing to hold for Schmeichel in the Danish goal.
Equalization by Hazard (54th minute)
A dream action by the Belgians over Lukaku, De Bruyne and finally Hazard leads to 1: 1.
Spurred on by De Bruynes’ successful substitution, Martinez immediately followed suit: With Witsel and the regular captain Eden Hazard, who was spared against Russia, the coach brought two more superstars. With the best cast, the Belgians also took command and finally brought the game to tip. After 71 minutes it was 1: 2 from the Danes’ point of view. This time it was De Bruyne himself who gave Schmeichel the lead with a heavy shot from the edge of the penalty area (70th).
But Denmark did not bury their heads in the sand, but pushed vehemently for an equalization. Above all, Martin Braithwaite had several times the 2-2 on the foot. But first Curtois dived just in time when the FC Barcelona man shot a shot (75th), then a Belgian leg got in the way of the goal (77th), and finally the 30-year-old slipped inches past a dangerous Stangl pass . In the 87th minute Curtois was beaten again with a header, but the ball jumped to the crossbar. The Danes couldn’t get any closer to the compensation. The unlucky person’s name: Martin Braithwaite.
EM 2021, Group B, second matchday
Denmark – Belgium 12 (1: 0)
Copenhagen, Parken-Stadion, 25,000, SR Kuipers (NED)
1:0 Poulsen (2.)
1:1 T. Hazard (54.)
1:2 De Bruyne (70.)
Denmark: Schmeichel – Wass (62./Stryger Larsen), Christensen, Kjaer, Vestergaard (84./Skov Olsen), Maehle – Delaney (72./Jensen), Höjbjerg – Braithwaite, Poulsen (62./Nörgaard), Damsgaard (72. / Cornelius)
Belgium: Courtois – Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen – Meunier, Tielemans, Dendoncker (59./Witsel), T. Hazard (95./Vermaelen) – Mertens (46./De Bruyne), Lukaku, Carrasco (59./E. Hazard)
Yellow cards: Wass, Damsgaard, Jensen and T. Hazard
The best: Kjaer, Delaney, Poulsen, Braithwaite and De Bruyne, Lukaku, T. Hazard