Belgium wins again to leave Finland’s hopes in jeopardy
Belgium continued their perfect start to the European Football Championship with a 2-0 victory over Finland on Monday to top Group B and leave their rivals’ hopes of qualification in jeopardy. Belgium dominated with a squad that made several changes to the match, but waited until the 74th minute to open the scoring with a goal from goalkeeper Lukas Hradsky by mistake on his own goal after rebounding a header from Thomas Vermaelen from the post. And Romelu Lukaku won the victory seven minutes before the end with a powerful shot after a pass from Kevin De Bruyne, to raise his tally to three goals in the tournament. Belgium, who became the third team after Italy and the Netherlands to win all three matches, finished top of the group with nine points and will play in the last 16 against one of the four best third-placed teams in Seville on June 27. Denmark, who snatched second place thanks to a massive 4-1 win over Russia, play Wales in Amsterdam on June 26. Finland will wait for the results of the rest of the groups to see its fate in qualifying in its first participation in a major tournament. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made several changes to the squad that beat Denmark 2-1, although it included Eden Hazard and De Bruyne in their first participation in the starting lineup in the tournament. Young Jeremy Duques was the most dangerous in the Belgium squad and created the only chance before the break when he sprinted down the left side and hit a low shot that was cleared by Hradesky. Finland defended fiercely and did not threaten the Belgium goal until Glenn Camara’s shot into the hands of Thibaut Courtois after an hour of play. Hradsky saved a ball from Hazard and Belgium thought they opened the scoring when Lukaku received a pass from De Bruyne and hit the goal, but the video assistant referee ruled out the goal for offside. Finland finally collapsed under pressure when Hradsky put the ball into his own net after a header from Vermaelen rebounded from the left post of Finland’s goal. Lukaku relied on his skill and strength to add the second goal and raise his tally to three goals, equal with Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, Czech Patrick Shaik and Dutchman Jorginho Wijnaldum.