Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku stood out as Belgium grabbed a hard-fought 2-0 win over Finland in their final UEFA Euro 2020 Group B tie.
Belgium dominated the proceedings from start to finish but had to wait until the quarter of an hour to seal all three points. The first half was especially frustrating as, despite their best efforts, there was no way past Lukas Hradecky, who pulled off an outstanding save to deny Jeremy Doku, among others.
Belgium continued to probe post the interval and seemed to have taken the lead midway through the second half through Romelu Lukaku, only for VAR to deny the Red Devils due to a marginal offside call. The deadlock was finally broken in the 74th minute courtesy of a stroke of luck as Thomas Vermaelen’s header from a corner struck the woodwork before rebounding of Hradecky’s arm and going across the line.
Shortly after, Lukaku did have his goal at long last, and De Bruyne his assist, with the Belgium striker producing a brilliant turn and finish to round off the win. The result means Belgium have won all three games at a European Championship for the very first time while Finland drop down to third following Denmark’s 4-1 win over Russia. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.
Lukas Hradecky: 6.5/10
A rock-solid performance by Hradecky was marred by that unfortunate own goal that he knew little about. Otherwise, the Finland no. 1 made several saves to thwart Belgium, with the acrobatic stop to deny Jeremy Doku standing out. Can be proud of his overall effort at UEFA Euro 2020.
Joona Toivio: 7/10
A top-notch effort by Toivio, who put in a lot of hard work to make sure that he delayed the inevitable. Along with Paulus Arajuuri, Toivio made numerous clearances while also completing three interceptions and tackles each. Did his part well.
Paulus Arajuuri: 7/10
Sitting at the base of the three-man central defensive unit, Arajuuri was colossal in his performance and did well to ensure Belgium did not score until the final quarter of an hour. Hardly put a step wrong while making as many as six clearances. Unfortunate to have ended up on the losing side.
Daniel O’Shaughnessy: 6/10
In what was a tricky outing for O’Shaughnessy, he was fairly solid for the most part until he lost track of Romelu Lukaku for the second Belgium goal. Cleared everything in sight otherwise while completing 87 percent of his attempted passes.
Jukka Raitala: 6/10
A solid performance by Raitala, especially when he was defending against Eden Hazard, who he kept quiet for the most part. Did have his nervy moments against Jeremy Doku but gave a good account of himself, although his passing left a lot to be desired.
Robin Lod: 5/10
A difficult evening for Lod, who was wasteful with his passes while struggling considerably against the might of Kevin De Bruyne. Lost possession a staggering 17 times, and he really needed to be more clinical on the ball to give Finland a chance in the game.
Tim Sparv: 6/10
Back in the starting lineup, Sparv’s presence ought to have helped Finland more, but he ended up struggling to keep the midfield unit organised. Fairly solid on an individual level and even completed all but four attempted passes, but could have done more before being taken off as he got leggy.
Glen Kamara: 6/10
For a second successive game, Kamara was a part of a midfield unit that struggled against an imposing opposition attack. However, he saw a fair bit of the ball and did well to ensure that he did not lose possession cheaply, completing 95 percent of his attempted passes. Worked incredibly hard all campaign and deserved better.
Glen Kamara is world class. Gutted for him but what a brilliant individual performance, his teams just not good enough.
The interceptions, ball retention, dictating the tempo, positioning etc etc etc and he's getting better and better. #FIN
New contract please Rangers! pic.twitter.com/2K77hzAO1u
— Steely (@OhItsSteely) June 21, 2021
Jere Uronen: 5/10
Pinned back in his own half, for the most part, Uronen had his fair share of troubles against Jeremy Doku and even Eden Hazard at times and was dribbled past thrice. Won just two of his eight duels, although he did carry a threat when charging forward.
Teemu Pukki: 6/10
Pukki made quite an effort to make things happen and even produced a couple of tricky efforts on goal, only to have them blocked. Played a couple of key passes but had a passing rate of 77 percent. UEFA Euro 2020 has not really been a tournament to remember for the Finland striker.
Joel Pohjanpalo: 5/10
It has been all downhill since a memorable opening game for Pohjanpalo, and against Belgium, he was just anonymous for the most part, managing just a couple of hopeful efforts.
Rasmus Schuller: 5/10
Sent on in place of Sparv, Schuller continued pretty much from where the Finland captain left off, struggling to keep Belgium at bay, although he was efficient in his usage of the ball.
Joni Kauko: 6/10
On for Pohjanpalo, Kauko was fairly standard in his cameo, completing nearly all of his passes while being solid off the ball. Finland needed more than standard late on, though.
Nikolai Alho: 5/10
Off the bench for his maiden appearance at UEFA Euro 2020, Alho hardly saw the ball coming his way in the final 20 minutes or so, although he did have a shot blocked.
Marcus Forss: N/A
Sent on late in place of Lod, Forss did not have any time to script a comeback for Finland.
Fredrik Jensen: N/A
A late introduction, Jensen was barely on the pitch before full-time.
Kevin De Bruyne has now set up Romelu Lukaku in four consecutive tournaments:
✅ 2014 World Cup
✅ EURO 2016
✅ 2018 World Cup
✅ EURO 2020
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 21, 2021
Thibaut Courtois: 6/10
One of the easiest outings in Courtois’s career, with Belgium number 1 forced to make just one regulation save all game. Tougher tests await in the Round of 16 and possibly beyond.
Jason Denayer: 6.5/10
A much-improved showing by Denayer, who kept the errors away and did not lose possession cheaply against Finland. Pass completion rate was an impressive 90 percent, while he also made three blocks to help Thibaut Courtois earn a second clean sheet at UEFA Euro 2020.
Dedryck Boyata: 7/10
In what was set to be the straight face-off between Boyata and Denayer for the third spot in the three-man central defensive unit going forward, Boyata came up trumps, keeping the backline organised and winning three duels while completing 98 percent of his attempted passes. Solid effort.
Thomas Vermaelen: 6/10
Easy as you like for Vermaelen on his return to the side as he spent more time in the Finland half than his. Misplaced just two passes all game while winning six duels as well. And it was his header that bounced off the woodwork before Lukas Hradecky scored the own goal to hand Belgium the lead. Job well done.
Leandro Trossard: 6/10
A surprise pick at right wing-back, Trossard was clinical enough with his output while also being fairly solid at the back. However, he is just not the right fit for the wing-back slot and needs to be deployed higher up the pitch next time he takes the field.
Kevin De Bruyne: 8/10
Kevin De Bruyne hadn’t started a #EURO2020 game until today. Despite this, no player has created more chances than him in the competition .
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 21, 2021
De Bruyne is now fully fit, and it shows in his game as Belgium’s creator-in-chief ran riot on Monday, playing a staggering 7 key passes while retaining an impressive 86 percent passing rate. Put in the hard yards off the ball as well, completing 5 tackles. The standout moments for him, though, were his two threaded passes to Romelu Lukaku, with the second earning him an assist.
Axel Witsel: 8/10
Back in the starting lineup at long last, Witsel did incredibly well to ensure Belgium were on top of Finland throughout. The veteran sat at the base of the midfield and snuffed out the moves being created by Finland, winning 5 duels. At the same time, his output on the ball was top-notch, as he completed 96 percent of his attempted passes in addition to creating a few chances as well.
Nacer Chadli: 6/10
Making a rare appearance for Belgium, Chadli was a constant outlet down the left flank but left a lot to be desired with his end product. The 31-year-old did play one key pass while completing most of his attempted passes, but his crossing really needs a lot of work.
Jeremy Doku: 7/10
Like several Belgium players, Doku was handed his first start at UEFA Euro 2020, and the young winger was a bundle of energy. Constantly had Finland’s defenders back-pedalling while his shot was saved brilliantly by Hradecky. Has done his reputation a world of good.
Eden Hazard: 5/10
Making his first start at UEFA Euro 2020, Hazard did have his moments in front of goal and even played a key pass, but he is still lacking that extra bit of sharpness that enables him to turn the opposition defences inside out. Can he rediscover his best?
Romelu Lukaku: 8/10
63 goals in 96 games for Belgium.
Romelu Lukaku is special ✨ pic.twitter.com/ZhzaJNyiC3
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 21, 2021
The man of the moment for Belgium, Lukaku has romped to the top of the goalscoring charts at UEFA Euro 2020 and will fancy his chances of grabbing the Golden Boot after another impressive showing on Monday. Unfortunate to not have a brace after being denied a goal due to a marginal offside call. The turn and finish for his goal, though, was exquisite.
Thomas Meunier: N/A
On for Trossard, Meunier did well to see the game out late on.
Michy Batshuayi: N/A
On for Doku, Batshuayi saw a fair bit of the ball in the final 15 minutes of the game but did not get into any scoring positions.
Christian Benteke: N/A
On for Lukaku, Benteke barely touched the ball in the dying embers of the game.
Hans Vanaken: N/A
A late introduction in place of De Bruyne, Vanaken helped see the game out.