Kevin De Bruyne returned to Football without a mask to save Belgium

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Kevin De Bruyne played his first competitive match on Thursday, June 17, almost a month after he was forced out of the UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City due to an injury to his face.

Recall that Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger collided with the Belgian midfielder during the final and Kevin de Bruyne sustained a face injury which gave Manchester City’s coach, Pep Guardiola, no choice but to substitute him in the 56th minute. His absence in the match made it easier for Chelsea to win the UEFA Champions League final 1-0.

Despite sustaining an injury two weeks before the kick-off of Euro 2020, the coach of the Belgium national team, Roberto Martinez, could not drop him due to his quality.

Few days before the tournament kicked off, the coach revealed that Kevin De Bruyne underwent minor surgery and also revealed that the 29-year-old attacking midfielder could use a face mask during the tournament.

After he successfully underwent the surgery, coach Martinez allowed him to heal by not playing him in Belgium’s first game of the tournament against Russia which they won 3-0.

But in Belgium’s second game in the tournament which was against Denmark on Thursday, June 17, Kevin De Bruyne was given a chance to return to active football. He however started from the bench.

At the point coach Martinez decided to introduce Kevin De Bruyne into the game, Belgium and Denmark were already playing 1-1, hence, a hero was needed.

Kevin De Bruyne came into the game in the 46th minute without a facemask and immediately stamped his authority in the game. His presence was so felt that he got into the scoresheet in the 70th minute. His goal became the match-winner as Denmark were not able to get back into the game.

Though he came into the game in the second half, Kevin De Bruyne’s performance was good enough to win the game’s man-of-the-match award.

Kevin De Bruyne was expected to carry out a wild celebration after scoring the winning goal but decided to run to the corner of the pitch and stood calm to make it a quieter celebration in honor of Denmark’s Christian Eriksen who collapsed during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland on June 12.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring against Denmark on Thursday.
Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring against Denmark on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Denmark who are the hosts of the teams in Group B have lost their first two games in Euro 2020 which means that their journey in the tournament is as good as over. But the coach of the team, Kasper Hjulmand believes they can turn things around against Russia on Monday, June 21.

“We’ve felt an enormous backing from the people, from all the people following us, this whole stadium and all the people we’ve met and felt the love from – that’s what did it in the end”, the coach said.

“And also that this group is extremely good together. We can take a lot with us from this match. Now we’ll close this one. I’m already thinking about the Russians. We are not finished in this tournament.”

On the other hand, Belgium have qualified for the Round of 16 with a game in hand. Whether they beat Finland or not on Monday, the team would move to the next round of the tournament.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said: “It’s been a while since we’ve last been put to the test like this. In the first half, shell-shocked me shell-shocked but they have the experience to turn a game around.”