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Finland faced off against Belgium, needing to match or better Russia’s result in order to finish second in the group. For the Red Devils, qualification was already secured as they looked to finish with a perfect record.

As expected, it was Belgium who were dominating the early exchanges with Finland staying disciplined without the ball. Roberto Martinez’s side, sporting eight changes, were certainly the more attacking of the two in the opening 15 minutes. Except for a few runs into the box, Finland were giving a good account of themselves.



De Bruyne was at the heart of all the good things Belgium were up to, and his cross from the byline almost caused a own goal midway through the half.

They kept looking for a chance, but the shots were off target with Finland looking for opportunities of their own to get forward. De Bruyne’s cross found Lukaku whose header was straight at Hradecky. Doku, one of the brighter sparks, drew a brilliant save from Hradecky as both teams entered halftime goalless.



Belgium started the same way they ended the half, pushing Finland back further and further. They were seeing a lot of the ball in and around the penalty area, but nothing to worry Hradecky too much in goal. Finland themselves got their first shot on target just past the hour mark, with Camara’s tame shot at Courtois.

Hazard drew another strong save from Hradecky as Belgium looked to finally force the issue. Lukaku thought he had given them the lead after an emphatic finish following a quick counter-attack, but it was chalked out for offside by VAR. It was mighty close.



The goal did eventually arrive soon after from a corner. The ball found old boy Vermaelen whose powerful header hit the crossbar before bouncing in off Hradecky into the net. It was eventually credited as an own goal, the sixth of the tournament. With Finland pushing forward, it was Belgium who got the second goal of the game.



De Bruyne’s pass allowed Lukaku to roll his defender before rifling a shot into the net for 2-0. There was to be no further goals or twists in the match as Belgium ran out deserved winners to progress as group winners. For Finland, they face an anxious wait for their future depending on other results.



Here are the three key takeaways from this match:



A much changed Red Devils side still controlled the game from kick-off. Lukaku looked as threatening as ever while De Bruyne was trying to influence the best he can. However, it was the teenager Doku who was especially dangerous with the clock ticking towards halftime. He made some darting runs with the ball and even had a fine shot saved. Belgium had the lion’s share of the possession in the first 45 and there was little indication that it was going to change.



They kept the pressure up and even had shots on target well saved. Lukaku thought he had finally scored the opener before being ruled out for offside. That did not matter much as Vermaelen’s header hit Hradecky before going in. Lukaku eventually got his goal for Belgium’s second and they finished the group stages with a perfect record.



Nobody expected Finland to pose too many problems for the Red Devils but they did make it to halftime all square. Though they did make some good attacking forays midway through the first half, that was about it. Most of the time they were having to defend smartly and make sure Belgium’s attacking prowess remained subdued.



Finland kept their backline well organized which helped in subduing some of the danger, but knew that an even bigger second half awaited. Though they started it well and kept the attacks at bay, their defence was eventually breached. Even after Lukaku’s goal was canceled for offside, an unfortunate own goal from Hradecky of which knew little and a Lukaku piledriver condemned them to third in the group.



Though the goals came late, Belgium were always in control of the match. The richness of their attacking talents cannot be overstated, and with De Bruyne fully fit once again, they will be a problem in the knockouts. Lukaku scored his third of the tournament and the linkup play has been working fluently. With the return of their first-choice team for the round of 16, there is a very good chance that this might finally be Belgium’s year to do good on their immense potential.


Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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