Belgium went to a 2-0 victory against Finland which secured their status as winners of Euro 2020 Group B.
And heartbreaking for Finland, it is unlikely that they will reach the age of 16 due to Denmark’s superior goal difference.
It was far from a beautiful game in St Petersburg, as both sides settled into an early rhythm that shouted “a draw suits both sides”.
But Belgium’s superior quality began to shine through as the game progressed, and they found themselves deep in the second half when Thomas Vermaelen’s nod removed the post and into the desperate Lukas Hradecky.
When the news of Denmark’s unpleasant lead over Russia began to blow through, Finland knew they needed something from the game to end second and safe qualifiers. So when Lukaku turned in the box and fired in a wonderful low strike, they knew the lights were off for their Euro 2020 campaign.
“He’s playing with them!” ?
Romelu Lukaku gets his goal this time …
Watch and listen to BBC https://t.co/n38T8cFysK#FINBEL # Euro2020 # bbceuro2020 pic.twitter.com/rpFucV5qGn
Today’s match (@BBCMOTD) June 21, 2021
The result means that Finland, Denmark and Russia all finish on three points, and since the three-way head-to-head is level, the Danes’ superior goal difference sends them through.
Belgium in the meantime? They have taken nine points from nine and look very good.
Here are your player ratings from a dramatic night in Group C.
The face of a man who knows what just happened / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / Getty Images
Lukas Hradecky (GK) – 6/10 – Some strong saves during the first half as he was kept quite busy by a powerful Belgium attack. Good stop to deny Jeremy Doku and absolutely nothing he could do with OG – so unlucky.
Joona Toivio (CB) – 7/10 – Defended bravely to the right of the three backs and won most of his individual battles.
Paulus Arajuuri (CB) – 8/10 – Almost was at the wrong end of his own goal early but largely managed the game well enough and nodded everything that came in contact with him.
Daniel O’Shaughnessy (CB) – 6/10 – I’ve checked and yes, he’s actually Finnish.
Sparrow takes down De Bruyne / Lars Baron / Getty Images
Jukka Raitala (RWB) – 6/10 – Hazard kept quiet early enough. Struggling for Jeremy Doku was moved to the left flank but recovered to enjoy a decent game.
Robin Lod (CM) – 4/10 – Could not get much time on the ball and seemed to give it away as often as he found her husband.
Tim Sparv (CM) – 6/10 – Kept things together at the base in midfield and screamed a lot. Went late when his legs started to move.
Glen Kamara (CM) – 6/10 – Commentators: it is pronounced Ka-MAH-ra. No camera. Ffs.
Jere Uronen (LWB) – 5/10 – Drove the channels well but fought defensively until he was replaced in the last 20 minutes.
Pukki gets a goal by sight / Lars Baron / Getty Images
Joel Pohjanpalo (CF) – 3/10 – Literally did nothing. Not a thing. Subbed with 20 left.
Teemu Pukki (CF) – 5/10 – Must often drop deep to get a touch of the ball thanks to Finland’s dangerously low blocks. Did not do much on the rare occasion it found him.
Schuller came in for the last leg / ANATOLY MALTSEV / Getty Images
Rasmus Schuller (Sparrow, 59) – 6/10
Nikolai Alho (Pohjanpalo, 70) – 6/10
Joni Kauko (Uronen, 70) – 6/10
Courtois gets a rare touch of the ball / ANTON VAGANOV / Getty Images
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 6/10 – Wish he had brought the slippers with him.
Jason Denayer (CB) – 7/10 – Walked for the most part.
Dedryck Boyata (CB) – 8/10 – Enormous performance when he often went out to win the ball and hit the door to Finland’s rare ventures ahead.
Thomas Vermaelen (CB) – 6/10 – Didn’t have much actual defense to do, but never gave the ball away despite trying a number of ambitious long-range passes. Celebrated the goal as if it were his own and it might as well have been.
Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard each start their first game at # EURO2020 tonight! ? pic.twitter.com/j0KFF8tOMw
– 90min (@ 90min_Football) 21 June 2021
Leandro Trossard (RWB) – 6/10 – The Brighton man gave a decent account of himself but good lord, he is not a wingback.
Axel Witsel (CM) – 7/10 – What Witsel is actually doing is a bit of a mystery, but he seems to be a very important part of the Belgian side.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – 8/10 – The Belgian quarterback created several chances from nothing when he returned to start XI. Because he’s Kevin De Bruyne, and that’s what he does.
Nacer Chadli (LWB) – 6/10 – Sees a more natural fit for the wing-back role than Trossard, but his crossing needs work.
Jeremy Doku goes for goal / Lars Baron / Getty Images
Jeremy Doku (RW) – 7/10 – Floating changed position with Hazard on the flanks and his fast feet caused problems for both of Finland’s wingers. Almost had his third international goal in the first half.
Romelu Lukaku (CF) – 8/10 – Made his presence known with some dangerous runs behind early and grew steadily into the game to deliver a terrific performance. Thoroughly earned his third in the tournament.
Eden Hazard (LW) – 5/10 – Will he ever fit again?
Batshuayi reminds Eden Hazard who the boss is / Anton Vaganov – Pool / Getty Images
Thomas Meunier (Trossard, 74) – 5/10
Michy Batshuayi (Doku, 74) – 5/10
Christian Benteke (Lukaku, 84) – N / A