Belgium survive nervy end and reach last 16 after Ukraine stalemate

In the end, Ukraine just didn’t have the legs or the guile. They will feel unfortunate to have been eliminated from the Euros having picked up four points, the same as every other side in the group, more than Denmark who qualified in second in England’s group as well as various third-placed teams, but in the final minutes, when it became apparent that they would need a goal after all, they had nothing.

There are bigger issues at stake, of course, as indicated by the way Belgium’s fans applauded the Ukrainian anthem. In every interview, every press conference, their players have talked about waiting for news from home, of knowing friends and relatives huddling round a single radio or phone to follow games, of the anguish of those back home. If their prime job was to remind the world of the war they are fighting, they have done it admirably.

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