Belgium 4-2 Denmark: Lukaku seals finals spot

Romelu Lukaku struck twice as Belgium saw off a spirited Denmark side to advance to next October's final four.

Highlights: Belgium 4-2 Denmark
Highlights: Belgium 4-2 Denmark

Romelu Lukaku ended Denmark's valiant effort with two second-half goals as Belgium joined France, Italy and Spain in next year's UEFA Nations League final four.

Belgium vs Denmark: as it happened, reaction

Match in brief

Youri Tielemans makes it 1-0
Youri Tielemans makes it 1-0BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Lukaku struck twice in the second half to all but end Denmark's challenge for a finals spot in a thrilling encounter in Leuven. The game was not three minutes old when Youri Tielemans opened the scoring, but Denmark were not cowed.

Jonas Wind soon marked his full debut with a goal, and the visitors had chances to go ahead themselves before Lukaku's opportunistic strike made it 2-1 some 11 minutes after the break. His second, a trademark header, gave Belgium breathing space.

There was a late hiccup, however, when Thibaut Courtois allowed Nacer Chadli's pass to slip under his foot, but Kevin De Bruyne hit back immediately to rubber-stamp progress.

Derek Brookman, Belgium reporter

They say it's all about putting away your chances at the top level, and that's precisely what Belgium did better than Denmark. The visitors came close before and after the interval, but it was Lukaku's eye for goal that undid them in the end. Not a vintage showing by the Red Devils, but they preserved their 100% home record in the UEFA Nations League to progress. Can’t argue with that.

Sture Sando, Denmark reporter

Denmark played their hand, but you can't deny Belgium's class. The bold choice to start with Wind proved astute – and not just because of his goal. The Danes leave without points, but not empty-handed. This performance proved they can be a handful even for the best in the world.

Reaction

Lukaku on Belgium final four qualification
Lukaku on Belgium final four qualification

Romelu Lukaku, Belgium forward: "Sometimes you need to be a bit scrappy to win, and we did that tonight. We were close last time [to qualifying for the UEFA Nations League finals], but we lost pretty harshly to Switzerland. We knew that a point would be enough, but you don’t want to risk it, so we won and we’re really happy about that."

Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach: "We played with a lot of defensive discipline. We were good on the ball, we created chances. Martin [Braithwaite] had a big chance to score and make it 2-1. So there are a lot of positives that we can take with us, and some things that we have to learn from. No doubt about that."

Key stats

• Belgium have scored inside the first 16 minutes their last seven UEFA Nations League games.
• Lukaku has scored 17 goals in his last 14 games for Belgium.
• Belgium have scored at least two goals in 20 of their last 21 competitive matches (W19 L2).
• Denmark conceded four in a game for the first time since 2013, a first at international level for Kasper Schmeichel.
• Belgium are 29 competitive home games unbeaten – their last defeat was against Germany in 2010.

Line-ups

Romelu Lukaku celebrates after making it 3-1
Romelu Lukaku celebrates after making it 3-1BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen (Boyata 90+2); De Bruyne, Tielemans, Dendoncker, Chadli; Mertens, Lukaku, T Hazard (Foket 77)

Denmark: Schmeichel; Mæhle, Christensen, Kjær, Wass; Delaney (Jensen 70), Højbjerg, Eriksen; Braithwaite, Wind (Sisto 88), Poulsen (Andersen 76)

What's next?

Belgium will line up in the UEFA Nations League final tournament from 6-10 October 2021. Teams will return to competitive action in the spring in the European Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.