For the third consecutive day at UEFA Euro 2020, every match played featured a winner. However, the streak of five consecutive shutouts was snapped.
We had another team punch their ticket to the Round of 16 and another one is on the doorstep. We saw moments of individual brilliance, great teamwork, and an ability for the football world to come together and offer their support when it mattered.
Matchday Seven of the Euros offered plenty of entertainment and intrigue. Here’s the lowdown on how it all played out:
Belgium 2, Denmark 1
On a day that was marked by plenty of celebrations honoring the recovering Christian Eriksen, Denmark channeled their emotions into a dream start when Pierre-Emile Højbjerg intercepted a pass outside of Belgium’s box in the 2nd minute. He would play in forward Yussuf Poulsen, who would send his shot past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and into the bottom left corner for the opening goal. Denmark would continue the onslaught on Belgium’s net in the opening 10 minutes with attempts from Joakim Mæhle and Daniel Wass forcing saves from Courtois. Even after the match was paused in the 10th minute in honor of Eriksen, Belgium were unable to catch their breath, finishing the half with only one shot on target.
The introduction of a returning Kevin De Bruyne to start the second half would prove to be instrumental for Belgium and the results were immediate. In the 54th minute, striker Romelu Lukaku broke into the right side of the 18-yard box on a long run from midfield and laid the ball off for De Bruyne. The Manchester City midfielder avoided two slide tackles before picking out a streaking Thorgan Hazard in the middle, who was able to score on a half-open net. De Bruyne would score the match’s decisive goal in the 70th minute when he had time and space to step into a shot outside of the box on the left and sent it on a line to the bottom left corner of the net. Denmark’s best chance to equalize came in the 87th minute when Martin Braithwaite contorted his body to get his header on net, but his attempt hit the top of the crossbar and out.
Belgium will only need a draw in their final group match vs. Finland to top Group B while Denmark still have a chance to qualify for the next round if they can get a result vs. Russia.
Ukraine 2, North Macedonia 1
Both teams were looking to build off of the positives of their opening match losses, but it was Ukraine who came up with the first chance in the 8th minute when Ruslan Malinovskyi almost caught goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski neglecting his near post, but the North Macedonian dove to his left to make the save. North Macedonia would grow into the match and enjoy more possession around Ukraine’s 18-yard box, but the warning signs were there again in the 28th minute when Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko was sprung into the six-yard box, but Dimitrievski came charging out to close down the shot.
Yarmolenko would cash in on the ensuing corner though, receiving a beautiful back-heel flick from Oleksandr Karavaev at the back post and guiding it into the net. The goal-scorer turned provider in the 34th minute when Yarmolenko played in Roman Yaremchuk on the right side of the box and the striker slightly curled his shot around Dimitrievski to beat him at the near post. North Macedonia almost pulled one back in the 39th minute when Goran Pandev broke into the box and successfully chipped Ukraine goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan, but the striker was a step offside.
North Macedonia were the better of the two sides to start the second half and they were rewarded with an opportunity in the 55th minute when striker Aleksandar Trajkovski’s effort from outside of the box was spectacularly tipped off the crossbar by Bushchan, but Pandev was fouled by Karavaev on the follow-up. Bushchan would also save Ezgjan Alioski’s initial penalty shot, but the rebound fell right to the wing-back and he smashed it into the net. Trajkovski came up with another good effort from distance in the 68th minute, a dipping shot towards the bottom right corner that Bushchan barely was able to parry away. Ukraine had an opportunity to extend their lead late when they were controversially awarded a penalty after a perceived handball in the box, but Malinovskyi’s attempt was stopped by Dimitrievski going to his right. North Macedonia couldn’t get another effort on target before the full-time whistle blew.
Ukraine will next face Austria in a match that will determine who else will advance from Group C while North Macedonia, having already been eliminated, will look to go out with their heads held high vs. the Netherlands.
Netherlands 2, Austria 0
The Dutch wasted no time in imprinting their will on this match, but they were given a gift in the 8th minute when Austria’s David Alaba was late getting to a loose ball in the box and connected with the foot of Netherlands wing-back Denzel Dumfries. The referee consulted the VAR monitor and awarded the penalty a few minutes later, which Memphis Depay stepped up to convert into the bottom left corner just past a diving Daniel Bachmann. Depay almost had his second in the 40th minute when striker Wout Weghorst received a long ball in the box and squared the ball to him at the back post, but he got his timing wrong and skewered it over the bar.
The Netherlands came out in the second half as aggressive as they were in the first, with center-back Stefan de Vrij coming close in the 61st minute with a point-blank header from a corner that was stopped by Bachmann. They were able to beat Austria’s offside trap in the 67th minute when Depay set up substitute Donyell Malen on a breakaway from just inside of midfield and the winger unselfishly laid the ball off to an open Dumfries on the right side for him to score. Austria’s first and only shot on target came in the 87th minute when substitute Karim Onisiwo got his head to a cross at the back post, but it was right at goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
With the win, the Netherlands not only clinched a spot in the next round at Euro 2020, but also clinched the top spot in Group C.