81 min Nothing to report in the football, with Belgium happily passing the clock down. That nasty injury to Castagne aside, this really has been the perfect tune-up for them.
79 min “Whether or not they should have played I think it ultimately does come down to the players’ decision,” says Joshua Reynolds. “I agree that they might regret making the decision and that it was certainly not a good environment for making one, but ultimately they did want to play. It’s hard without a guideline to say in the moment ‘you don’t know what is best. We do.’. Maybe there should be a rule put into place where if a player has this kind of health event happen then the match is abandoned and cannot be played until at least 24 hours after. I have no idea what the logistics of that would be, however.”
Yes, well put. That’s why I have sympathy with the Danish players, who went through a kaleidoscope of emotions from the moment Eriksen collapsed. They did what they thought was right, and I wouldn’t criticise them for that.
77 min Two more changes for Belgium: Thomas Vermaelen and Dennis Praet replaces Jan Vertonghen and Yannick Carrasco.
76 min The second half has been a non-event. The substitute Miranchuk tries to enliven proceedings with a strong run into the area, only for Boyata to calmly dispossess him. Boyata has been really good tonight.
74 min “As others have said, it would always have been impossible for the Danish players to perform at their usual level under those circumstances,” writes Alasdair Murray. “It reminded me of that England v France friendly played a few days after a terrorist attack in Paris, where the minds of the French players were clearly not on the game at all. Additionally, though it’s far from the most important thing here – it seems a shame that Finland’s first win at a major tournament will now always have an asterisk next to it. Best wishes to Christian Eriksen.”
Though I agree with you, it’s interesting that Arsenal-Wolves continued last season after Raul Jimenez fractured his skull, and Wolves went on to win. I’m trying to work out what the differences are – the incidents were different but equally serious (I was doing the liveblog and I thought Jimenez had died).
72 min Eden Hazard replaces Dries Mertens. It would be great to see him return to form in this tournament; the world is a better place when Hazard is playing well.
69 min Nothing much is happening. Russia have been better in the second half, but Belgium have still kept them at arm’s length.
65 min “Evening Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “Looking ahead, I really think Scotland could spring a surprise, and maybe even win the tournament. And I’m not just saying that because I picked them in the work sweepie.”
I found out today that I’ll be liveblogging the England/Scotland game next Friday. Please email us, whatever state you’re in.
63 min Russia make their final substitutions: Maksim Mukhin and Aleksei Miranchuk replace Cheryshev, who was one of the first-half substitutes, and Zobnin.
61 min If Russia get one it could become interesting, because Belgium have been coasting for most of the second half. It’s human nature, I suppose: we all thought it was over at half-time so they probably did too, at least subconsciously.
59 min “Emotional trauma is no less trauma for being emotional,” says Ben Stanley. “In rugby you see players who get concussed and want to carry on. The decision is taken out of their hands, and rightly so. The Denmark players were always going to do what Eriksen asked of them, and that’s totally understandable, but in such circumstances it shouldn’t be a decision for them to make. It’s also worth thinking about the Finnish players – they could hardly refuse on hearing of Eriksen’s request, but they will also have been emotionally affected by seeing someone nearly die on the pitch in front of them. Someone needs to be empowered to say ‘no, this isn’t going to happen’.”
Things have at least improved since, for example, the Burnden Park tragedy of 1946.
58 min Dzyuba breaks forward dangerously, and Boyata does really well to hold him up on the edge of the area. This is a decent spell for Russia.
55 min “I don’t agree they were wrong to restart the game,” says Ric Arthur. “Eriksen texted his teammates asking them to finish the game, and after consulting with the Finland players, they all agreed to play. What benefit would there have been to stew on it for another day, and have the whole crowd come back to witness another half?”
Well, I doubt Denmark would have lost for a start. To what extent that is important is another matter. I can see both sides, but I think the Denmark players will eventually regret playing, and not only because they lost. We all have experience of muddled thinking when we are suffering from shock or grief, and we usually end up regretting our lack of clarity.
54 min Dzyuba has a rising shot saved comfortably by Courtois, though it wouldn’t have counted as Dendoncker was nobbled by Cheryshev in the build up.
52 min Russia are huffing and puffing to no great effect. Their GPS trackers probably suggest otherwise, but from afar this looks like an easy night’s work for Belgium.
50 min First Kevin De Bruyne, now Timothy Castagne may have fractured an eye socket. His eye was already swollen and bruised by the time he left the field.
48 min Russia would probably be happy with damage limitation in the second half. It’s hard to be sure at this stage, but a win and a draw against Finland and Denmark would probably be enough to put them through to the knockout stage. Anything tonight would be a bonus.
46 min Peep peep! Belgium begin the second half. Russia win the ball straight away and Zobnin shoots well wide from long range.
Russia have made a half-time substitution: Igor Diveev is on for Dmitri Barinov.
“No matter what the circumstances of the Denmark players being asked to resume the game, it should have been abandoned & replayed tomorrow at the earliest,” says Mike Nagle. “When you have witnessed a teammate being given CPR on the pitch there is no way you can be in the right frame of mind to finish the game shortly afterwards. Uefa need to get the message that physical & mental health comes first.”
I think you’re right. It would be really interesting to know who first suggested the match should be completed today. If it was Eriksen, as some people have written, I can understand why it happened, even if in hindsight it was the wrong decision.
Half time: Belgium 2-0 Russia
Peep peep! Belgium are cruising to victory in St Petersburg. The inevitable Romelu Lukaku put them ahead with his 61st goal for Belgium, and then the substitute Thomas Meunier added a second after a wicked cross from Thorgan Hazard. Russia had a decent spell at 1-0 but for the most part it has been a stroll for Belgium, the perfect way to ease themselves into the tournament.
45+3 min Carrasco almost makes it 3-0, lifting a shot over the bar after a dizzying run infield from the left. Belgium are a class apart.
43 min Another Russia change: Zhirkov can’t continue, so he is replaced by Vyacheslav Karavaev.
41 min It’s still being checked, but it shouldn’t be a penalty – replays show that Meunier ran into Zhirkov.
40 min Meunier picks up a loose ball, moves into the area and goes over under challenge from Zhirkov. There was no real appeal for a penalty, though it was a risky challenge and it’s being checked by VAR.
38 min A free-kick is headed back across goal by Dzyuba, six yards out, and the ball bounces to safety. I’m not sure why he didn’t head at goal, though I think he was offside anyway.
38 min “There are no right answers in this situation,” says Mary Waltz. “This is not a critique. But the Finland goal was a save Schmeichel makes in his sleep. The Hjobjerg penalty effort was of a man who didn’t want to be on the spot. The Danes just suffered major trauma. The result could have just as well happened tomorrow. It’s just sad.”
It’s really hard to judge because we don’t know the exact circumstances by which the game was resumed. If Eriksen asked them to finish the match, they were never going to say no. It’s hard to say as I haven’t been watching the game, but it does sound like their minds were elsewhere.
37 min Zhirkov is struggling. He slipped as he cleared the ball and started feeling his knee, but it looks like he’s okay to continue.
35 min It was a delicious cross from Hazard. I wouldn’t be too harsh on Shunin, as I think he lost sight of the ball because of a posse of bodies at the near post.
Hazard’s dipping, inswinging cross from the left was spilled by Shunin, who I think was unsighted, and Meunier gobbled up the rebound from 10 yards.
GOAL! Belgium 2-0 Russia (Meunier 34)
The substitute Thomas Meunier makes it two.
31 min Barinov is a bit late on Mertens, who stamps on Barinov’s personal space as he lands. I’m fairly sure it was an accident. The referee and VAR weren’t interested.