Belgium vs. Finland: Score, Reaction from 2016 International Friendly

Tom Beck@@twjbeckContributor IJune 1, 2016

Finland's Kasper Hamalainen (R) reacts after scoring goal in front of Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (2nd R), Belgium's Thomas Vermaelen (C) and Belgium's Axel Witsel (L) during a friendly match between Belgium and Finland ahead of the Euro 2016, on June 1, 2016, at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND        (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Romelu Lukaku scored one minute from full time to earn Belgium a 1-1 draw with Finland in their penultimate warm-up clash at Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels before the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament starting June 10.

Despite dominating possession throughout the encounter, Belgium were made to pay for their bluntness in attack when Kasper Hamalainen netted from close range on 52 minutes.

Second-half substitute Christian Benteke and Marouane Fellaini both missed a host of good opportunities to find an equaliser before Lukaku finally tapped into an open net in the 89th minute.

Michy Batshuayi had the opening chance of the match after six minutes, blasting Divock Origi's pullback from the byline over the crossbar. Kevin De Bruyne fed the Liverpool forward down the right-side of the box, but the Marseille striker saw his strike take a minor deflection on its way over.

Belgium's Michy Batshuayi (C) reacts after missing a header during a friendly match between Belgium and Finland at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, on June 1, 2016, ahead of the Euro 2016. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND        (Photo credit should read EMM

Jan Vertonghen stung the fingertips of Finland goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky with a low free-kick drive from 20 yards out as the hosts began to dominate possession in their opponents' third.

Origi—who lined up in a wide-right position for the international friendly—was enjoying his time on the flank, as noted by Belgium national team journalist John Chapman:

John Chapman @BelgoFoot

Origi is looking really sharp, takes out defenders, lays off to De Bruyne who shoots narrowly wide. #belfin #lfc

The Scandinavians were willing to absorb pressure; however, they failed to utilise a regular outlet as Belgium maintained ball retention. With 28 minutes on the clock, the hosts had enjoyed 69 per cent of the possession. Despite this dominance, manager Marc Wilmots' side had yet to show their prolificacy.

With 38 minutes played, Manchester United's Fellaini headed his first effort of the afternoon on goal. De Bruyne's high, inswinging corner kick found the towering midfielder at the back post, but his knockdown was well kept out by Hradecky.

Finland's midfielder Perparim Hetemaj (L) vies with Belgium's midfielder Axel Witsel (R) during the friendly football match between Belgium and Finland, at the King Baudouin Stadium, on June 1, 2016 in Brussels. / AFP / JOHN THYS        (Photo credit shou
JOHN THYS/Getty Images

Moments later, Belgium struck the woodwork. A sublime whipped ball by Toby Alderweireld found Batshuayi unmarked eight yards out from goal in a central area, but the striker—who scored 17 Ligue 1 goals in 2016-17, per WhoScored.com—crashed the ball against the upright and cleared away from goal.

The second period took on the same pattern of the first 45 minutes following the break, as Batshuayi again headed over from inside the box after meeting Eden Hazard's driven ball from the left wing. The Chelsea playmaker was largely absent during the first half because of Belgium's persistence down the right.

With seven minutes played in the second half, Finland stunned Belgium to open the scoring against the run of play. Jason Denayer failed to track Jukka Raitala, as the wing-back struck a low ball into the six-yard box for Hamalainen to tap under goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

OptaJohan revealed the alarming statistic for Belgium supporters:

OptaJohan @OptaJohan

1 - Finland have scored with their first touch in the opposition box of the game vs. Belgium. Shock.

Alderweireld, playing in a right-back position for the national team, was left flat-footed by the ball into the area and was powerless to stop the experienced forward scoring Finland's first goal under head coach Hans Backe.

Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (L) reacts after Finland scored a goal during a friendly football match between Belgium and Finland ahead of the Euro 2016, on June 1, 2016, at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.  / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND        (P

OneFootball highlighted the significance of the goal for the former New York Red Bulls boss:

The arrival of Dries Mertens and Benteke on the hour mark saw the Red Devils increase their tempo in possession, and Wilmots' men went close to finding an equaliser soon after. Fellaini sent a downward header wide of goal before shots from Mertens and Alderweireld flew off target.

Liverpool forward Benteke had another big opportunity to level the scoreline, heading Vertonghen's floated far-post cross away from goal under pressure from Markus Halsti. Hazard was the next player to miss a clear-cut chance, as Paulus Arajuuri stabbed his close-range volley off the goal line.

With 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Benteke missed Belgium's best chance of the game, striking Mertens' low ball into the six-yard box off target with the goal gaping.

However, with 90 seconds of normal time remaining, Belgium found their equaliser. Mertens' deep ball into the box was misjudged by Hradecky, who dropped the cross into the path of Lukaku. The 23-year-old then chested the ball over the goal line from a yard out.

Post-Match Reaction

Belgium have been drawn alongside Republic of Ireland, Italy and Sweden in Group E at the Euros and must learn to cope with sides setting up defensively due to their attacking potency.

Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring a goal during the friendly football match between Belgium and Finland, at the King Baudouin Stadium, on June 1, 2016 in Brussels / AFP / JOHN THYS        (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Gett
JOHN THYS/Getty Images

Everton striker Lukaku felt Marc Wilmots' men deserved to win the friendly clash due to the number of openings they manufactured, per Amitai Winehouse of MailOnline.

"It was difficult. We created a lot of chances, and then we had an unlucky moment against us. We really should have won," he said.

"All teams seem to defend against us and wait for their one chance."

Next up for the Red Devils is another home fixture against Scandinavian opposition, this time against Norway in their final warm-up tie on Thursday evening as they return to Brussels.


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