3 things we learned from Belgium v. Finland

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Belgium got a goal from Romelu Lukaku, and one from the other team, as they beat Russia to close out Group B play at EURO 2020 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Monday.

[ MORE: EURO 2020 hub ]

The victory sees Belgium finish top of the group with a perfect record, nine points from three games, as they eye a deep run at EURO 2020. Finland, on the other hand, finished 3rd in Group B and must therefore wait to see if they’ll be one of the 3rd-place sides to also advanced.


Three things we learned: Belgium – Finland

1. Favorites for a reason: In a game they didn’t even have to win, that wasn’t at all exciting for nearly 65 minutes and with a quick turnaround to their round-of-16 clash with one of Switzerland, Portugal or Germany (among others), Belgium finished the game looking like the best possible version of themselves — scoring and forcing goals at one end of the field and trying to take all the pressure off at the other. With Lukaku simply carrying over his Inter Milan form for Belgium at EURO 2020, the only thing that can stop Belgium now looks to be their somewhat suspect, aging defense.

2. Lukaku eyeing the Golden Boot: Here’s what you need to win the Golden Boot at a tournament like EURO 2020: a handful of goals against the weaker teams in the group stage, and to play for one of a handful of favorites guaranteed maximum games in the knockout rounds. This is Lukaku we’re talking about here, so check (three in three games) and check (see: above).

3. Hazard getting up to speed, slowly but surely: Eden Hazard’s minutes have gone up from 18 against Russia, to 31 against Denmark, to 90 against Finland. He got the assist for De Bruyne’s winner against Denmark and had another respectable showing on Monday. It’s undoubtedly something to keep an eye on as the knockout rounds begin.

Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne  – Got the assist on Lukaku’s goal (how unfair) and completed seven key passes, marking yet another masterful play-making performance from the maestro.


With Belgium only requiring a draw to win Group B and Finland hoping for the same result (which would have ultimately seen them finish 2nd), the first half was anything but a scintillating display of attacking soccer.

At halftime, Finland had taken two shots, both of which occurred in first-half stoppage time.

The second half, however, had plenty of goals — some that counted, and some that didn’t. Lukaku would have four goals from three games if not for, let’s just say, a dubious offside call midway through the second half.

It wasn’t much longer, though, until Belgium finally went ahead. Thomas Vermaelen nearly scored it, but he put it off the woodwork and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky quickly became the very unlucky victim of an incredible own goal.

Eventually, Lukaku got his goal, and he showed off every part of his game to do it. The spatial awareness to take up the right space, strength to hold the defender off, touch to receive the ball under duress and turn, precision to finish just inside the post.

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