Dubai: How often have we seen it happen? During a finely balanced match the difference often is a moment of sheer quality and that’s what we got last night as Denmark were pegged back by Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne.
Big players step up at the big moments and Belgium will be relieved to have the talisman back from injury, otherwise, they were facing defeat as the brave Danes sure put them to the test.
They managed 21 attempts on goal while Belgium only had 6 and will feel disappointed to have lost yesterday, but that’s football.
The so-called bigger teams can turn matches around with the plethora of talent available to them. World class players have the composure and calmness to change games and we couldn’t have seen a better example of that than yesterday. Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard also came on for the second 45 and Belgium were transformed in an instant. But the star was De Bruyne.
Having missed out on the opening game against Ukraine due to injury, the Man City man was brought on for the second half and he changed the outcome of the game.
Up until his introduction, Belgium were heading for defeat as Denmark raced out of the blocks. They broke the deadlock after 99 seconds and totally bossed the first half in a highly charged atmosphere. This was their first match since Christian Eriksen collapsed last Saturday and you could see they were going to give every ounce of effort to try to get a win for their stricken star. There was a nice moment when the ball was kicked into touch so everyone in the stadium could take part in a minute’s applause for him and when the match resumed, the fans made sure they got right behind the team.
Denmark looked like they would blow Belgium away and sure had the chances - but in the end, the substitutions made the difference. De Bruyne came on and immediately began pulling the strings. First he set up Thorgan Hazard to cancel out Yussuf Poulsen’s very early opener and then put them 2-1 with a sublime left-foot finish.
It ensured they booked their place in the last 16 but they were made to work for this result.