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De Bruyne the hero as Belgium rally to beat Denmark 2-1

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Copenhagen, June 18 (IANS) Kevin de Bruyne was the hero for Belgium as he inspired a second-half fight-back to ruin Denmark’s attempts to dedicate a win to Christian Eriksen, who was hospitalised after collapsing during his side’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland last Saturday.

De Bruyne helped set up Belgium’s equalising goal and scored the winner after Denmark had taken a second minute lead on an emotional evening in Copenhagen.

From the moment the referee blew the whistle for the game to start, it was obvious the Danish players wanted to dedicate a win to Eriksen, who will need a pacemaker installed.

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The Danes tore into the Belgians from the start, taking just 90 seconds to open the scoring.

The high pressure from the Danes saw Jason Denayer misplace his pass out of defence and Youssef Poulsen put Denmark ahead with a shot into the far corner.

Denmark were winning every challenge and carved out two more chances in the next five minutes, with Joakim Maehle bringing a smart save from Thibaut Courtois before Daniel Wass could have done better with a far-post header.

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The game was interrupted in the 10th minute with a minute of applause from fans, both sets of players and even the officials for Eriksen, who is currently recovering in hospital.

The interruption to the play didn’t mean a let-up for the Belgians who were unable to get out of their half for nearly all of the first 45 minutes as the Danes caused them constant problems with their pace, but failed to score a vital second goal.

Bruyne came on for Belgium at the start of the second half for his first appearance since suffering a facial injury in the Champions League final and his return led to an immediate improvement from his side.

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Thorgan Hazard equalised in the 52nd minute with a simple finish after a fantastic move which saw Romalu Lukaku surge forward before passing to De Bruyne, who squared the ball for Hazard to score.

Denmark were tiring and the game had totally changed, and as if to underline his influence, De Bruyne put Belgium ahead with a drilled left footer from around 25 metres after a move involving Lukaku and Eden Hazard, who had also come on as a substitute.

Martin Brathwaite saw a shot saved by Courtois, was inches away from getting a vital touch to a cross from the left and then flicked a header onto the top of the bar as Denmark looked to save a draw, but even with Kasper Schmeichel going forward for an injury time corner, the equaliser wouldn’t come.

Denmark need to beat Russia in their last game and hope results elsewhere go their way to have a chance of making the last 16.

–IANS

akm/pgh

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