Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne stood out for Belgium as they beat Denmark 4-2 in Leuven on Wednesday to seal a spot in the UEFA Nations League Finals.
It did not take long for the hosts to grab a foothold in the game, as a fantastic long-range strike from Youri Tielemans handed Belgium the lead. The Red Devils continued to dominate the proceedings thereafter but saw the game going level against the run of play, as Jonas Wind marked his full debut for Denmark with a close ranger header.
The visitors could have made it 2-1 in their favour soon after, only for Thibaut Courtois to make a big save to deny Martin Braithwaite. Belgium did not let Denmark get on top following that moment and went back ahead early in the second half when Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne combined smartly from a quick free-kick.
Midway through the second period, Belgium opened up a two-goal lead, with Lukaku on target again. With five minutes left in the game, it seemed as if Denmark might have found a way back in the game again when Nacer Chadli scored an own goal due to Courtois’s inability to control his back-pass.
However, De Bruyne allayed all fears just moments later as he produced a fine finish from Thomas Foket’s low cross-field pass to make it 4-2 and round off the win. The result helped Belgium finish atop Group A2, thereby sealing their place in the UEFA Nations League Finals. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Roberto Martinez’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 5/10
There was not a lot that Courtois could have done to deny Jonas Wind for Denmark’s first. The Belgium no. 1 later made a couple of big saves to keep the visitors at bay. However, a comical error gave Denmark some late hope, when he really should have easily controlled Nacer Chadli’s back-pass.
Toby Alderweireld: 7/10
A night wherein Alderweireld did not really put a foot wrong. The veteran defender did well to neutralise the threat of Yussuf Poulsen, winning 3 duels while also making an important block. Also, a potent outlet on the ball, completing 90 of the 100 passes he attempted on the night.
Jason Denayer: 6/10
A decent enough display by Denayer at the centre of the Belgium back-three, with 4 clearances to boot. However, he could have arguably reacted a bit better when Wind scored. Otherwise, the 25-year-old was largely solid at the back.
Jan Vertonghen: 6/10
Vertonghen was a bit unlucky to see the ball deflect off of him to catch his teammates off guard when Denmark scored their first through Wind. Apart from that instance, the experienced defender was only caught out once, with Courtois bailing him out. A top display otherwise, with 3 clearances and 4 interceptions to show for his efforts.
Thorgan Hazard: 7/10
A night of hits and misses for Hazard. For much of the first half, the 27-year-old unsuccessfully tried to get his crosses into the box, failing to get past the first man each time. However, he finally had a cross reach its target when a pinpoint delivery was converted by Romelu Lukaku. Put in a lot of work defensively as well, completing 2 interceptions.
Youri Tielemans: 9/10
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) November 18, 2020
Yet another game wherein the importance of Tielemans was highlighted; so much so, that Belgium did not even miss the suspended Axel Witsel for a second. The youngster absolutely bossed the midfield and enjoyed some clever interplay with Kevin De Bruyne.
One such exchange saw him take a quick free-kick that ultimately led to the first goal that Lukaku scored. Tielemans also found the back of the net himself, producing a tremendous finish from long range to open the scoring for Belgium. A vital cog in the middle of the park.
Leander Dendoncker: 7/10
Having proven his fitness, Dendoncker started and completed the game for Belgium against Denmark on Wednesday. The 25-year-old was on the money from the get-go, harrying a Denmark defender off the ball before feeding Tielemans for the opener. Thereafter, he looked to clear out the danger wherever it presented itself while hardly misplacing passes. Solid effort.
Nacer Chadli: 6/10
With Thomas Meunier unavailable, Nacer Chadli returned to slot in as the left wing-back, with Hazard moving to the right flank. Weirdly did more work in his own half than down the left-wing, not attempting a single cross, although he did deliver a fine long pass to create a decent opening. Unlucky to have the own goal credited to him when Courtois failed to control his back-pass.
Kevin De Bruyne: 9/10
🇧🇪 A goal and an assist for Belgium
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) November 18, 2020
For the umpteenth time, De Bruyne was in his elements in the final third. The orchestrator for Belgium created the most chances (3) in the game, one of which was converted by Lukaku for his first of the game. De Bruyne also found the back of the net himself to kill off the game with a peach of a finish. Now has 7 assists in his last 6 games.
Dries Mertens: 6/10
A night wherein Mertens was not as involved as he would have liked. On top of that, he failed to complete even one of the 8 crosses that he attempted on the night. With De Bruyne and Tielemans connecting with each other for the most part, it was a night to forget for Mertens, whose only notable pass ended with Lukaku being caught offside.
Romelu Lukaku: 9/10
After impressing against England, Lukaku delivered the goods yet again for Belgium. With two goals in the game, Lukaku’s tally for the current UEFA Nations League edition is up to 5 goals. The finish for the first goal was a bit scuffed, but the ball still found its way into the net. More importantly, it was his movement that enabled him to latch on to a clever pass by De Bruyne.
For his second, he was as imposing as ever in the air, making no mistake in powering the header from Hazard’s cross. On another night, he could have even been celebrating a hat-trick. Nevertheless, he made his mark for Belgium yet again and is now just 3 goals away from 60 for his nation.
Romelu Lukaku is now three goals away from reaching 60 goals for the Belgian national team.
No other player has even reached 40. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/KrfRTvKfBf
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 18, 2020
Thomas Foket: 7/10
On for Hazard in the 70th minute, Foket ended the game with an assist, as a brilliant low cross sliced through the Denmark defence before De Bruyne scored. Did not see a lot of the ball otherwise.
Dedryck Boyata: N/A
A late introduction, Boyata helped see the game off.