Euro 2020: De Bruyne sends Belgium into last 16

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Belgium's midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match between Denmark and Belgium at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 17, 2021.

Kevin de Bruyne inspired Belgium to a comeback win against Denmark that secured their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020 as fans and players paid tribute to Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is recovering after suffering cardiac arrest.

Eriksen is recovering in hospital after he collapsed on the pitch at the Parken Stadium during Saturday's game against Finland.

Tributes were paid to Denmark's talismanic number 10 before and during the game, with play stopped in the 10th minute as players, officials and supporters joined together for a minute's applause.

That came after Yussuf Poulsen gave the hosts a dream start just one minute and 39 seconds into the game, slotting in after a mistake in the Belgium defence. IMG-20210617-192357-154

De Bruyne was sent on at the start of the second half and the Manchester City midfielder changed the game.

He played a part in the equaliser, receiving a pass from Romelu Lukaku before superbly finding Thorgan Hazard to fire home, and then drove in the winner with 20 minutes remaining after a brilliant move started by Lukaku.

Martin Braithwaite went close to a late equaliser for Denmark but his header skimmed the top of the bar.

Victory means Belgium are top of Group B with six points from two games while Denmark are bottom of the standings with zero points.

Denmark were making their return to the Parken Stadium for the first time since those shocking scenes of Eriksen collapsing on the pitch at the weekend.

Both sets of fans showed their support for the player with messages to him on banners in the stands, while the conclusion of the Danish national anthem was greeted with a huge roar, one that was surpassed barely two minutes later when Denmark took the lead after an error in Belgian defence

A poor clearance by Jason Denayer was pounced upon by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who quickly found Poulsen and the Denmark forward slotted home. IMG-20210617-192422-423

Belgium, who had brushed aside Russia 3-0 in their group opener, just could not get going as the occasion seemed to overwhelm them.

But the introduction of De Bruyne for the start of the second half changed all that as he provided a brilliant cameo performance.

The midfielder has recently recovered from a fractured nose and eye socket but his return and performance from off the bench will give the Belgians a real boost heading into the knockout rounds.

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