After resisting until sunset, an own goal from goalkeeper Hradecky, and another from Lukaku, left her third in the group. Belgium passes as leader

Hradecky scores in own door.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEVAFP

S. Thomas Vermaelen, at 35 years old and after spending the last times in the elephant cemetery in Japan, still claims spotlights. And not because he was lying on a stretcher, but because they were still in Belgium. With a quarter of an hour from the end, and with Finland yearning for the tie that would grant them the qualification, Vermaelen caught a corner. And the doorman Hradecygaping, he did not know where to put his hand after hitting the ball on the stick. Lukaku sank the Nordics, who finished as third group. Although with few qualifying options, with a goal difference of -2.

[Narracin y estadsticas]

One of the Finnish fans singing their country’s anthem in the stadium stands Krestovski from St. Petersburg began to cry. What a day the game hadn’t even started. The fact, far from simple, that Finland had reached the last day of its first European Championship, its first major tournament, with options already deserved a cascade of tears. Football, unfortunately, does not depend only on emotions, but on knowing how to play. And the selector Markku Kanerva, who in his years as a gamer worked as an elementary school teacher, had a plan. Simple and perhaps the only possible: to fit his eleven players in the last 30 meters. Dreaming of a tie to nothing because Denmark beat Russia. And trust that if Pukki’s time did not come, some royal owl, the amulet of the Norse, would perch on the crossbar.

I helped the Finns to face the game already classified and with the certainty that a single point would be enough to secure the first place. This led to the night passing in slow motion, no matter how much Doku, more than a promise, quickened the pace every time someone dared to pass the ball to him. Hradecky took out a ball that was going to goal. Hope, Arajuuri Y O’Shaughnessy, the Finnish centrals, were gigantic.

They tried witsel, De Bruyne Y Eden Hazard, the three in the starting eleven hoping to be important in the face of crosses. The sensations left by the Real Madrid footballer improved with the passing of the minutes. He was not a starter with his national team since November 19, 2019. And his last international goal was scored on the 16th of that same month. From that same year. An eternity for those who lead Belgium to third place in the World Cup in Russia. I peeked out first to shudder. Hazard, in the twilight of the first act, fell into the area before O’Shaughnessy’s entrance. The referee signaled nothing and the striker put his hand on his left ankle, not his right, the damned one. It was just a scare. Already in the second half, the Belgian captain demanded Hradecky to another great stop. Little else was heard of him.

Belgium pressed something else. Lukaku was annulled 0-1 because of an offside foot. But Vermaelen got up. Hradecky discovered the misfortune. And Lukaku, this time yes, they cut off much of the Finnish dream.

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