Two second-half goals saw Belgium comfortably beat Finland in their final group name. They dominated after a lacklustre performance up until that point.
Finland tried to hold out as long as they could but failed to do so. A point would have been enough to progress, but Denmark’s win leaves them relying on favours now.
Finland made one change to the side who lost to Russia. They welcomed back Tim Sparv to the midfield in favour of Rasmus Schuller. Belgium made a few changes with Dereck Boyata, Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Witsel, Nasser Chadli and Leandro Trossard coming into the side. It still had a strong baseline though.
Both sides started cautiously. Romelu Lukaku and Teemu Pukki found themselves on the ball in the opening few minutes but were surrounded by defenders. The Finnish attacker did almost get a shot away, but it was stolen from him by Kevin De Bruyne. He then appeared at the other end to play a ball over the top for Lukaku. He was only able to shoot wide though.
The Man City attacker then came alive to see the first clear chance. He weaved his way past a few defenders before a fierce ball across the goal. It deflected off Paulus Arajuuri and onto the face of Hradecky. He was able to get it away before it caused more problems. De Bruyne then got down the flank to play it a fine cross on to the head of Lukaku. He was only able to head straight at Hradecky. He was called on again to tip away a curled drive from Jeremy Doku before the break.
The second-half took a while to get going as Finland seemed content to sit in and protect their result. Jason Denayer came up from the back to try his luck. It was far too high however. Belgium were ramping up the pressure at this point. Jere Uronen was forced to clear away from his own line as Chadli crossed it in. Hradecky was then forced into a great reaction save as Hazard took it first time from a Witsel cut back.
Belgium thought they had taken the lead as De Bruyne slid a pass through the defence to Lukaku. He planted a shot into the bottom corner only to see it overruled on VAR for a marginal offside. Finland could breathe again. Finland were attempting to hang on by getting deeper and deeper.
They could not hold out though. A corner was missed by two defenders and Thomas Vermaelen headed goal-wards. It hit the post and as it bounced down, it hit the glove and crept over the line. Tough luck on the impressive keeper.
Romelu Lukaku did manage to get the goal after all those missed efforts. He received the ball with his back to goal, swivelled and shot into the bottom corner.
Belgium were able to see it out with relative ease. They will be a major threat for whomever meets them on Sunday. Finland have to hope that their point total will be enough to go through.
Finland: Lukas Hradecky; Daniel O'Shaughnessy, Jukka Raitala, Joona Toivio, Jere Uronen (Nikolai Alho 69); Robin Lod, Glen Kamara, Paulus Arajuuri, Tim Sparv (c) (Rasmus Schuller 58); Joel Pohjanpalo (Joni Kauko 69), Teemu Pukki (Fredrik Jensen 90).
Subs not used: Jesse Joronen, Anssi Jaakkola, Robert Ivanov, Marcus Forss, Pyry Soiri, Robert Taylor, Leo Vaisanen, Onni Valakari.
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Jason Denayer, Dedryck Boyata, Thomas Vermaelen; Jeremy Doku (Michy Batshuayi 75), Kevin de Bruyne (Hans Vanaken 90), Nacer Chadli, Axel Witsel; Eden Hazard (c), Romelu Lukaku (Christian Benteke 83), Leandro Trossard (Thomas Meunier 75).
Subs not used: Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Leander Dendoncker, Dries Mertens, Simon Mignolet, Dennis Praet, Matz Sels, Youri Tielemans, Jan Vertonghen.
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych
extratime.com Player of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne