Kevin De Bruyne proves class as ‘PlayStation goal’ inspires Belgium comeback over Denmark

The Manchester City midfielder made his return from injury as the Red Devils came from behind to upset the hosts in Copenhagen

Jack Rathborn@JackRathborn
Thursday 17 June 2021 19:17
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Euro 2020: Daily briefing

Barely 10 minutes into the second half and Kevin De Bruyne had sprinkled his magic on the Parken turf in the form of a sublime first touch.

The feint to shoot was soon followed by the flick of a brush as he rolled his studs over the ball, leaving Denmark defenders Daniel Wass and Jannik Vestergaard scattered like bowling pins.

The awareness to then neatly square to the onrushing Thorgan Hazard at the back post confirmed a decisive return from injury at Euro 2020 following surgery on an eye socket injury picked up in the Champions League final against Chelsea.

“A PlayStation goal”, uttered Ally McCoist in delight on commentary for ITV, given its beautiful simplicity.

Despite a quiet first half, Romelu Lukaku left his mark too, charging down the right before a delicate touch inside to the Manchester City midfielder.

A reduced attacking burden, Lukaku appeared to thrive upon De Bruyne’s introduction, and with Eden Hazard, off the bench once more, gradually regaining his sharpness that proved so elusive at Real Madrid, Belgium suddenly have that ruthless streak again.

And boy may they need it in the coming weeks, if their defence continues to look so vulnerable for spells.

An adrenaline-fuelled Denmark, filled with emotion after the shocking scenes surrounding Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest last Saturday, scurried around the creaking Belgian legs early on.

Jason Denayer’s early blunder, with less than 90 seconds on the clock, was exacerbated after white shirts flocked to the middle of the pitch.

It left Leipzig star Yussuf Poulsen with a gaping inside right channel to expose for the opener, driving low past Thibaut Courtois to ignite a delirious home crowd.

The concern for Roberto Martinez is that this lethargic approach at the back is not strictly associated with the Lyon defender, as Jan Vertonghen was persistently targeted by the Danes.

With Thorgan Hazard drawn out to press, the Danes gleefully flipped the ball in behind to leave the Benfica defender frantically recovering.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after inspiring Belgium’s comeback in Denmark

And Martin Braithwaite had the speed but lacked a ruthless streak that better sides may present in the latter stages of this tournament to truly punish Belgium.

For example, any performance resembling the devastatingly direct nature of Domenico Berardi for Italy will prove to be a nightmare for the Red Devils.

But at just 1-0, the hosts’ profligacy proved costly, with the Danes only one goal ahead at the break and destined to become the first side to suffer defeat at this tournament after scoring the first goal.

Any panic for the visitors quickly subsided following the restart in Copenhagen as De Bruyne bent the game to his will.

The lead was grasped 15 minutes after levelling, again Lukaku brilliantly carved his run just enough to remain onside in the build-up.

The Inter Milan forward took the long route back around to the edge of the penalty area, drawing red shirts out before finding Youri Tielemans.

And this time it was De Bruyne who was the beneficiary of neat, tidy interplay, galloping into space after a perfectly-weighted square ball by Eden Hazard.

Started wide of the post, the ball exploded off De Bruyne’s boot and nestled into the near corner.

A skip towards the corner of the pitch in celebration, it was a gesture to dispel any anxiety for fans back home when he is on the pitch, speaking volumes about his impact off the bench.

Into the last 16, Belgium have their full compliment of superstars back again with De Bruyne primed to make this his tournament.

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