Euro 2020 data dive: De Ligt's passing masterclass, Belgium keep winning run going

By Sports Desk June 17, 2021

Belgium and the Netherlands joined Italy in booking their place in the knockout stages of Euro 2020 with victories over Denmark and Austria respectively.

The world's top-ranked side Belgium had to bounce back from a goal down to beat an inspired Denmark, with both teams paying tribute to Christian Eriksen after 10 minutes as the midfielder continues his recovery from a cardiac arrest.

Roberto Martinez's side need a point in their final Group B match to make certain of top spot, but the Netherlands are already through as Group C winners after seeing off Austria.

Ukraine also picked up all three points against North Macedonia in Thursday's action – just their second-ever victory at the European Championships.

Using Opta data, we take a look at some of the best facts from across the day's action.

Ukraine 2-1 North Macedonia: Shevchenko's men end losing Euros streak

Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk were on target for the second match running to end Ukraine's six-game losing streak at the European Championships.

With Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk's first-half goals, Ukraine became the first nation to have the same two players score in their first two games at a single Euros.

Ezgjan Alioski pulled one back at the second attempt after his penalty was saved, making it two goals in three games – as many as in his previous 17 for North Macedonia.

His penalty was given after a foul on Goran Pandev, who – at at 37 years and 325 days – is the oldest player to win a spot-kick in the Euros since data was first recorded in 1980.

Ruslan Malinovskyi failed to convert from 12 yards late on in a game which saw both sides win a penalty in the competition for the first time since England v France in 2004.

It means four of the six penalties taken at Euro 2020 have not been converted. The last tournament with more was Euro 2000 (five).

Denmark 1-2 Belgium: Red Devils bounce back from early setback

Belgium showed why they are ranked number one in the world as they recovered from an early setback to make it 11 wins from their last 12 group games at major competitions.

However, they had to do things the hard way after Yussuf Poulsen struck early on in Copenhagen.

Poulsen opened the scoring after 99 seconds – the second-earliest goal ever in the tournament, behind only Dmitry Kirichenko for Russia against Greece in 2004 (65 seconds).

The one shot on target Belgium managed in the first half came via Dries Mertens, who was earning his 100th cap for his country – the fifth Belgian to reach that landmark.

But the half-time introduction of Kevin De Bruyne for Mertens transformed the Red Devils, the playmaker setting up Thorgan Hazard's leveller and then drilling in the winner.

De Bruyne's fantastic strike was teed up by Eden Hazard, who joins the Manchester City star as the two European players to assist a goal at each of the last four major tournaments.

Belgium survived a nervy finish as they won their first two European Championship matches for the first time, while Denmark have lost their first two for the first time since 2000.

Netherlands 2-0 Austria: Faultless Oranje ease through

The Netherlands followed up their opening-game win against Ukraine with a routine victory against Austria in Amsterdam.

It is the third time the Oranje have won their opening two Euros matches, having previously done so in 2000 and 2008, when they exited the competition at the semi-final and quarter-final stage respectively.

Frank de Boer's men are now unbeaten in their last nine matches at major tournaments, which is the longest run by a European nation since Portugal went 12 without defeat between 2014 and 2018.

Memphis Depay opened the scoring for the Netherlands from the penalty spot, the Lyon forward's eighth goal for his country since De Boer took charge last September, with only Belgium's Romelu Lukaku scoring more (10) across all competitions for a European side over that period.

Denzel Dumfries added the second goal and is just the second Netherlands player to net in his first two appearances at the Euros after Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2004, this after the right-back failed to score in his first 19 senior caps.

One of the unsung stars for the hosts was Dumfries' fellow defender Matthijs de Ligt, who completed 100 per cent of his 40 passes – a record for a Netherlands player in a European Championship match since records began in 1980.

Related items

  • Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona: Bittersweet farewell for Xavi as Barca end season with a win Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona: Bittersweet farewell for Xavi as Barca end season with a win

    Barcelona ended the season with a 2-1 victory at Sevilla in LaLiga on Sunday, making departing coach Xavi's farewell bittersweet after a trophy-less season.

    La Blaugrana came out all guns blazing from the start and took the lead in the 15th minute through Robert Lewandowski who scored from close range after latching onto Joao Cancelo's cross.

    Sevilla levelled with Youssef En-Nesyri's strike in the 31st minute and went close again but failed to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Barca got the winner on the hour through Fermin Lopez.

    Barca were already guaranteed second place going into Xavi's final game. The Spaniard was sacked on Friday, after a disappointing campaign in which they lost the Spanish Supercopa final to Real Madrid and were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-final.

    Data Debrief: A legend departs

    Xavi never lost any of his six games as a manager against Sevilla in LaLiga (W5 D1), making them just the third opponent that he faced six times without defeat (also W5 D1 against Real Mallorca and Osasuna).

    Fermin got the all-important goal to ensure Xavi's tenure ended on a high note. He has scored seven goals in LaLiga in 2024, a record surpassed by only one other Spanish player in Europe's top five leagues this year: Iago Aspas (eight). 

  • Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka

    Andy Murray bowed out in the opening round of what is likely to be his final French Open appearance, following a straight-sets defeat by Stan Wawrinka.

    The Swiss ran out a commanding 6-4 6-4 6-2 victor in two hours and 19 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier, and could play Murray's compatriot Cameron Norrie in round two.

    Murray was facing Wawrinka for a third successive match at Roland Garros, having lost out to the latter in the 2020 first round and 2017 semi-finals.

    The 2015 champion stole an early advantage this time around, too, breaking in the opening game and subsequently holding to win the first set.

    A single break was also enough in the second set as Wawrinka doubled his lead.

    Murray has repeatedly said he is approaching the end of his career, revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

    However, the 2016 runner-up's chances of extending what is potentially his French Open swansong were all but ended as Wawrinka broke twice in the third set for a 4-0 lead, before the 39-year-old rounded off a dominant win.

    Data Debrief

    Wawrinka (39) and Murray (37) locked horns in the second-oldest match-up at Roland Garros this century, behind the 2019 first-round showdown between Ivo Karlovic (40) and Feliciano Lopez (37).

    And the Swiss was not to be denied, as he became the oldest man to win a match at the French Open since compatriot Roger Federer three years ago.

  • Verona 2-2 Inter: Arnautovic double earns point for Serie A winners Verona 2-2 Inter: Arnautovic double earns point for Serie A winners

    Champions Inter end their Serie A season with a 2-2 draw against Verona thanks to a Marko Arnautovic double.

    The Austrian opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a neat finish, but Inter were soon pegged back as Tijjani Noslin equalised six minutes later.

    The Dutchman then set up Tomas Suslov for their second to turn the game on its head, but another smart finish from Arnautovic on the stroke of half-time ensured they would salvage a point.

    Simone Perilli proved the hero for Verona in the end, pulling off a string of fine saves to keep his side level.

    Data Debrief: Landmark for Inzaghi

    Simone Inzaghi has now earned 250 points as a coach in Serie A with Inter, an achievement only Roberto Mancini has reached so far with the Nerazzurri in the three-points-per-win era (436). This draw takes him up to the landmark after 77 wins and 19 draws (18 losses).

    After winning the Scudetto with five games to go, Inzaghi has led Inter to 94 points in Serie A, with only three teams ever earning more points in a single campaign in the competition in the three-points-per-win era: Inter in 2006-07 (97) and Juventus in 2013-14 (102) and 2017-18 (95).

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.