De Bruyne sparkles as Belgium beats Denmark, teams pause for Eriksen tribute
Netherlands clinches Group C in win over Austria; Ukraine tops North Macedonia
Substitute Kevin de Bruyne set up one goal and scored the winner himself to give Belgium a 2-1 victory over Denmark in a European Championship game marked by an emotional tribute to Christian Eriksen in the first half.
De Bruyne came on after halftime for his first appearance since sustaining a facial fracture in the Champions League final and squared the ball for Thorgan Hazard to equalize in the 55th minute. He then scored in the 71st with a low shot from outside the area.
It was Denmark's first game since Eriksen's collapse, and the hosts started at a furious pace at a raucous Parken Stadium. Yussuf Poulsen scored with a low shot inside the far post in only the second minute.
The players joined the applause as well, as did referee Bjorn Kuipers.
Eriksen remains in a nearby hospital after suffering cardiac arrest in the team's opening game against Finland.
The victory give Belgium a spot in the round of 16. Denmark can still advance with a win over Russia on Monday if the Belgians beat Finland.
🇧🇪 Bravo, Belgium! The second team to qualify for the Round of 16 🥳<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EURO2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EURO2020</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BEL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BEL</a> <a href="https://t.co/EFXNkvBfyA">pic.twitter.com/EFXNkvBfyA</a>—@EURO2020
It had all started so well for Denmark.
Carried forward by the largest crowd in Denmark since the government eased pandemic restrictions, the hosts kept pushing forward in wave after wave after the early goal.
Play resumed at a more normal pace after the tribute to Eriksen, but Denmark still had the better chances in the first half.
Things changed completely when De Bruyne came on after the break.
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand had said the team's strategy for keeping Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku quiet was to make sure he didn't get the ball in the first place. And Denmark largely succeeded until the 55th, when Lukaku burst forward down the right flank before passing to De Bruyne. The Manchester City midfielder went around a defender inside the area before teeing up Hazard, who slotted it past a scrambling Kasper Schmeichel.
Eden Hazard, Thorgan's brother, then came on and set up De Bruyne for the second goal. De Bruyne ran toward the Belgium fans but didn't celebrate the goal, pushing in hands down in a calming motion out of respect for Eriksen.
Martin Braithwaite had Denmark's best chances for an equalizer, but his shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois in the 75th and his header glanced against the crossbar in the 87th.
Netherlands blanks Austria, wins Group C
This time, the Netherlands never looked like throwing away their two-goal lead.
Memphis Depay and Denzel Dumfries scored a goal in each half as the Dutch comfortably beat Austria 2-0 Thursday to advance to the round of 16 at the European Championship.
Depay sent a penalty kick low into the corner in the 11th minute for his 27th goal in 66 international matches. Dumfries then scored his second goal of the tournament — following his late winner against Ukraine — in the 67th after an unselfish pass from PSV Eindhoven teammate Donyell Malen.
The Netherlands is playing at a major international soccer tournament for the first time in seven years and qualified for the knockout stage with a game to spare.
Austria, playing without banned forward Marko Arnautovic at the Johan Cruyff Arena, rarely threatened to equalize against a well-ordered Dutch defence led by Matthijs De Ligt on his return from a groin injury.
The closest Austria came was a long-range shot by David Alaba in the 82nd minute. The team only managed one shot on target in the entire game.
🇳🇱 The Netherlands are through to the Round of 16 as group winners! 🎉🎉🎉<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EURO2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EURO2020</a>—@EURO2020
Arnautovic was handed a one-match ban by UEFA for insulting a North Macedonian player in the teams' Euro 2020 opener. The incident soured Austria's first victory at a major tournament in 31 years and its first ever at the European Championship.
In the group's other match Thursday, Ukraine beat North Macedonia 2-1 in Bucharest. The Dutch win eliminated North Macedonia.
Dumfries' goal — he also was fouled for the penalty — again vindicated Netherlands coach Frank de Boer's decision to ditch the traditional Dutch system of four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards in favor of a three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards.
Dumfries is a wing back who can sprint up the right flank and cause problems in the opponent's penalty area.
The Dutch also led 2-0 in their opening match on Sunday, but Ukraine scored a pair of goals level the score. Dumfries scored the winner in the 85th minute on that day.
The Netherlands will play its final Group C match against North Macedonia on Monday, also in Amsterdam. Austria will take on Ukraine in Bucharest.
Ukraine tops North Macedonia for 1st Euro 2020 win
Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk both scored again, and this time it was enough.
The pair of forwards netted a goal each in the first half Thursday to give Ukraine a 2-1 victory over North Macedonia at the European Championship.
The same two players also scored in the team's opening match at Euro 2020 on Sunday, but that ended up being a 3-2 loss to the Netherlands.
Yarmolenko netted from close range in 29th minute after Oleksandr Karavaev's flick from a corner. He then released Yaremchuk on the right flank in the 34th to double the lead with a low shot past onrushing goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
The goals were separated by five minutes. Against the Dutch, they scored only four minutes apart.
The pair also equalled coach Andriy Shevchenko's record of scoring two goals at the European Championship. Shevchenko netted his in a 2-1 victory over Sweden when the country co-hosted Euro 2012, Ukraine's only previous victory at the continental tournament.
Ezgjan Alioski got the only goal for North Macedonia in the 57th minute when he scored on a rebound after goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan blocked his penalty shot.
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Ruslan Malinovskyi later had a penalty saved by Dimitrievski on the other end. It was awarded for a handball following a free kick after a video review.
Ukraine now has three points in Group C while North Macedonia has zero and is facing elimination from the tournament.
Ukraine is appearing in its third European Championship and has never progressed out of the group stage. The team will remain in Bucharest for its final group match against Austria while North Macedonia will travel Amsterdam to face the Netherlands.
Referee Andres Rapallini of Argentina was in charge of the game at the National Arena with linesmen Juan Pablo Belatti and Diego Bonfa assisting. They were taking part in the European tournament amid an exchange with South American soccer body CONMEBOL.
A Spanish refereeing crew will take charge of a Copa America match between Chile and Bolivia on Friday.
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