The substitute sent the Red Devils into the last 16 with an assist and a goal in Copenhagen.
Article top media content
Substitute Kevin De Bruyne provided an assist and then the winning goal as Belgium turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 Group B win, and booked their place in the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16.
Match in brief
The Danes took the lead with the second-fastest goal in EURO finals history, a slip-up in the Belgium defence inviting Pierre-Emile Højbjerg to tee up Yussuf Poulsen's low finish after one minute and 39 seconds.
A moment's applause was observed after ten minutes for Denmark's Christian Eriksen, who is recovering in hospital following a medical emergency during Denmark's opening game against Finland, but the break did not interrupt the hosts' flow; they had nine attempts on goal to the Red Devils' one before the interval.
Belgium brought on Kevin De Bruyne at the break, and he had a part in their leveller on 55 minutes, forwarding a ball from Romelu Lukaku on for Thorgan Hazard to tuck away. The Manchester City man then put Belgium in front, a powerful low finish completing another dazzling team move.
The Danes did not buckle; Martin Braithwaite headed onto the crossbar in the closing stages and substitute Mathias Jensen hit a powerful shot just over. Defeat, however, leaves them with no points after two Group B games.
Star of the Match: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
"He was a very important factor in the two Belgian goals."
Peter Rudbæk, UEFA Technical Observer
Sture Sandø, Denmark reporter
It all started like a dream, but the second half turned out to be a nightmare. The Danes didn't find their feet after the break, and Belgium proved to be too big a mouthful for the third time in less than a year. However, coach Kasper Hjulmand can be proud of what he saw from his team – no doubt about that.
Alyssa Saliou, Belgium reporter
The first half was anything but a walk in the Parken Stadium for the Belgians. There are important lessons to be learned: if De Bruyne, Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard are still unable to play the full 90 minutes, the rest of the team has to step up. However, here once more was proof – if there were ever any doubt – that when Belgium have their best players on the pitch, they are nothing less than world class.
Roberto Martínez, Belgium coach: "It's been a while since we've last been put to the test like this. In the first half, the players seemed shell shocked but they have the experience to turn a game around."
Jan Vertonghen, Belgium defender: "The Danes surprised us with the system they played in and in the first half we were unrecognisable. We were always one step behind, it seemed. But then De Bruyne, Witsel and Eden Hazard came on, which just changed the game. They bring extra quality; we don't have to tiptoe around that."
Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach: "We've felt an enormous backing from the people, from all the people following us, this whole stadium and all the people we've met and felt the love from – that's what did it in the end. And also that this group is extremely good together. We can take a lot with us from this match. Now we'll close this one. I'm already thinking about the Russians. We are not finished in this tournament."
Thomas Delaney, Denmark midfielder: "We accepted that it's hard for us to be here again and sing the national anthem. We went into our circle before the match and pushed some buttons and said, 'Now are we going to give all we have.' We've prepared well and waited for this for years. That makes me extremely proud."
- Belgium have won a EURO game after conceding the first goal for the first time; prior to this game, they had had conceded the first goal in seven EURO finals matches, those contests ending D1 L6.
- Belgium are the first team to win a EURO 2020 game after conceding the first goal.
- Belgium have lost only one of their last 25 international matches (W21 D3 L1). They are unbeaten in their most recent 11 international fixtures (W9 D2).
- This is the first time Belgium have started the group stage with two successive wins and they have also scored five goals, which is their highest total in the group stage: four was their previous best (1984 and 2016).
- De Bruyne scored his first EURO goal, though he had struck at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups.
- Poulsen scored after 1m39s; only Russia's Dmitri Kirichenko (1m7s, vs Greece, 2004) has scored a faster goal at a EURO.
- Dries Mertens made his 100th international appearance for Belgium; he is fifth in the Red Devils' all-time appearance rankings.
- Denmark have won just two of their last 12 EURO final tournament matches (W2 D2 L8).
- The last time Denmark lost their first two matches at a EURO final tournament was at EURO 2000.
- Denmark have conceded more than once only three times in their last 23 matches – all three of those games coming against Belgium (L2-1 here, and L 4-2 and L 2-0 in the UEFA Nations League).
- Belgium have scored two or more goals in each of their last four international matches against Denmark.
- Belgium have won five of their last six EURO final tournament matches.
- Belgium have not failed to score in their last 32 international matches. The last time was vs France in 2018 World Cup semi-finals (L 1-0).
Denmark: Schmeichel; Christensen, Kjær, Vestergaard (Olsen, 84), Mæhle; Wass (Stryger, 61), Højbjerg, Delaney (Jensen, 72); Poulsen (Nørgaard, 61), Damsgaard (Cornelius, 72), Braithwaite
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Meunier, Tielemans, Dendoncker (Witsel 59), T. Hazard (Vermaelen, 90+4); Mertens (De Bruyne, 46), Lukaku, Carrasco (E. Hazard 59)