The Danes had already stolen the hearts of many with the scenes of them protecting their friend, Christian Eriksen.
Following the incident of Eriksen’s on-pitch collapsed last weekend, all eyes were on Denmark again as they met Belgium in a raucous Copenhagen. Because of the recent events at Parken, where Eriksen had to be given CPR, it is entirely reasonable to expect the Danes to be mentally drained from the entire situation, especially having had to return immediately to finish their game against Finland.
A spirited start from Denmark
Despite heading into the game as the least underdogs, Denmark showed an energetic start against the world number one. Yussuf Poulsen sparkled emotional celebrations in Copenhagen through a second-minute goal, the European Championship’s second-quickest goal in history.
The match momentarily stopped at the tenth minute – leading to a minute’s applause for the midfielder who currently is recovering at a nearby hospital with a window overlooking the stadium. The number 10 for the Danish national team was given a rousing round of applause from everyone in the ground, one that was certainly heard around the city.
Before the kick-off, the Denmark manager indicated that perhaps Eriksen might even be able to hear it from his bed. The atmosphere hit differently and everyone was emotional. I believe he was simply beaming with pride watching the game, knowing how he is loved over the world.
In one of the stands, there was a banner that read: “All of Denmark is with you, Christian.” It was a lovely tribute and a beautiful scene to see especially during this unprecedented time. The unity of this sport is truly something to behold; seeing everyone coming together as one, football once again proves to me that it is more than a game.
Belgium’s lethargic first 45 minutes
The match then continued with a brilliant, confident and passionate performance from Denmark while Belgium seemed lethargic and all over the shop. The Danes’ constant high-pressure gameplay pushed the Belgium side back, which left them shell-shocked.
Unfortunately, Denmark couldn’t keep up with the excellent work in the latter half. Belgium finally turned up after Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard came on as half-time substitutes. The 29-year-old midfielder then scored a fabulous goal after a nice pass from Hazard in the 70th minute. There is no doubting the lift De Bruyne gave to a side ambling through the game up until his arrival.
Through his calmness and great experience, the Red Devils were able to turn the game around. Belgium moved to the top go Group B after earning six points in two games with the win. With only a goal behind, Denmark painfully gave a spot for Belgium in the knockout stages.
It wasn’t easy for Denmark to maintain the high tempo with the Belgians coming forward but their team spirit won our hearts. Fret not, this is not over yet for Denmark as they still have a chance to progress if they can pull off a win over Russia on Monday with the Belgians defeat Finland.
Good game, well played
According to striker Martin Braithwaite, the Danes received Eriksen’s congratulations when they returned to the dressing room, even though they had been defeated by Belgium. The dramatic comeback from the Belgians in the second half brings back the memories of their World Cup last-16 clash against Japan.
I couldn’t sit still as the 90th minute approached. I wanted the Danes to win or at least find a late equalizer because they deserved a point.
“With Christian in our minds and our hearts, we know that he’s still here, we know it’s going to be a tough few weeks for you Christian, we’re here for you,” Kasper Hjulmand