De Bruyne snatches the win as Denmark shows solidarity for Eriksen’s recovery

June 18, 2021

“ALL OF DENMARK IS WITH YOU, CHRISTIAN”- the phrase is a rough translation of the Danish version “HELE DENMARK ER MED DIG, CHRISTIAN”.

This is what the banner read that unfurled behind Kasper Schmeichel’s goal when as pre-planned the referee put a halt to the usual proceedings of the match of Denmark against Belgium. The whole of the 25,000 fans along with the players, coaches and the supporting staff turned the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen into a cauldron of applause at the 10th minute mark. Romelu Lukaku choking up with emotions and hugging it out with Delaney and Kasper Schmeichel embracing his captain Simon Kjaer overwhelmed with emotions was the highlight of the fixture. “I really respect them as men, they saved my friend’s life,” Lukaku said.

Lukaku hugging Delaney
Schmeichel embracing his captain

It’s actually easier written than perceived. In life as well as in football there comes a moment which cannot be spelt out with words but can only be felt with our hearts. Denmark came and showed their utmost respects for their country’s most contemporary sports figure in a way that was magical and gave goose bumps to everyone who stood witness to it. The Danish supporters came in and sang their voices out in the hottest day recorded in Denmark for Christian Eriksen who suffered a cardiac arrest at this very ground in their inaugural match against Finland. To everyone’s relief he is fine now but the solidarity shown by the entire football community for his speedy recovery was exceptional.

“I told the players that the only thing I’m disappointed by is the result,” said Kasper Hjulmand, the head coach of Denmark remarked post-match. “I can’t describe the pride I feel. The quality they showed, four days after almost losing one of their best friends, to get up and play like this was amazing.”

Roberto Martinez’s side becomes the second team to qualify for the knockout stages of the European finals after two straight wins but we can surely agree on Belgium won the game but Denmark won our hearts. Denmark played as if they had been possessed and put their best foot forward and opened the score line just 99 seconds into the game. Denayer gave away possession (In Dutch they would say “Denayer has choked in the pass”) deep into his own half as Hojbjerg threaded it through for Poulsen who fired the ball way past Courtois at the right bottom corner of the net. Yussuf Poulsen makes the record of scoring the fastest goal in the European championship finals this year and overall becomes the second player to do so after Dmitri Kirichenko’s 67 second goal for Russia in the year 2004.

Poulsen’s goal story

The hosts after getting their dream start to a difficult and crucial fixture did not let the visitors touch the ball as Maehle wriggled his way through the Belgian defense and aimed to get a second one for his country but Courtois came to the rescue. Thereafter, with the likes of Braithwaithe, Wass and Damsgaard although not being able to show for a result at the score board after Courtois made such important saves in front of the goal was not able to break the Danes spirit quite yet.

Denmark ventured with a 4-3-3 formation while Maehle kept his position high as he is more attack minded player than Wass who was there at the right. When they faced an attack they fell back with a 5-2-3 formation with Maehle and Wass whose natural role was more of a winger took the defensive charge as fluently as they could. Hjulmand displayed a bold choice of formation by using five defenders when under attack but we all know what Belgium can do when they have the possession. Hojbjerg requires special mention because in spite of being an emotional person he soaked in the atmosphere and acclimatized himself quite well and gave his all for his country.

Braithwaite against Vertonghen

Romelu Lukaku with all the possession draught that his team suffered for in the first half was able to get only a clear shot being closed down by Kjaer, Christensen and Vestergaard and had only been able to shoot once but was off target. Yannick Carrasco started digging deep into the Danish midfield to gain the possession just to face Christensen coming down to block him from getting the ball and made up-field crosses for Lukaku. Every Danish player had stepped up to the occasion and gave their all onto the pitch- chasing every ball, fighting for every aerial challenge, testing Courtois whenever they had the ball within 25 meters of the Belgium goal. 

Yannick Carrasco being blocked by Christensen

The first half of brilliant and heartfelt football exhibited by the Danes ended with the hosts being as giddy as ever. The Belgians found the solution to all their problems when Belgium’s main schemer Kevin De Bruyne entered the battleground armored up in place of Dries Mertens with the purpose of getting his team back in the score sheet. The second half kicked off with Delaney had made the first attempt at goal but the drive went veering away from Courtois. Tielemens took the advantage of the free space created by De Bruyne in the Danish midfield by putting a chip in for Meunier but the equalizer for the visitors came at the end of 55th minute. Lukaku busted past two defenders down the right flank before slipping the ball inside for De Bruyne who feinted to send two defenders way past his reach before cutting the ball across for Thorgan Hazard to finish it in a calm and clinical manner.

Thorgan Hazard with the equalizer

The substitution of Axel Witsel in place of Dendoncker and Eden Hazard came on to replace Yannick Carrasco changed the whole style of the Red devils’ plan there on. They slowed the game down for the Danes who were in the mood for playing quick passes thus frustrating them with their mind games.

The Belgians got their match winning goal at the 70th minute with none other than Eden Hazard had orchestrated the final pass for Kevin De Bruyne as he drilled a low first-time effort inside Schemeichel’s near post from 20 meters out. Kevin De Bruyne proved once again why he is being regarded as the magician of the midfield in the footballing world with his huge sense of positioning, control and getting into the oppositions head with his moves.

The De Bruyne Chronicle

The Belgium were still not out of the woods as the Danes were determined to put the scoreline at parity with Matin Braithwaite breathing down Toby Alderweireld’s neck more than he would have liked it to be. But the visitors maintained their lead like you would expect the current world number one to be even after incessant blows from the Danish attacking line time and time again. Romelu Lukaku’s team clinched the victory away from the hosts in a style that can only be used and endorsed by them with turning the night into a nightmare for the Danes as they could not find their feet after the break and Belgium proved to be too big a mouthful for the third time in less than a year.

Team News:

Denmark: Schmeichel; Christensen, Kjaer, Vestergaard, Maehle; Wass, Hoejbjerg, Delaney; Poulsen, Damsgaard, Braithwaite.

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Meunier, Dendoncker, Tielemans, Hazard; Mertens, Lukaku, Carrasco.

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands)

Star of the Match: Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku with the award for the second time in the competition