Late Lukaku equaliser saves Belgium from loss to Finland
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium avoided an embarrassing loss to Finland in their penultimate friendly ahead of Euro 2016 when substitute striker Romelu Lukaku scored a late equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Lukaku struck in the last minute of the game for the world's second-ranked team, chesting the ball past Finland keeper Lukas Hradecky who had made a string of important saves for the visitors.
"It was difficult. We created a lot of chances and then we had an unlucky moment against us. We really should have won," Lukaku told Belgian TV.
Belgium started with a changed forward line compared to last week's friendly against Switzerland with manager Marc Wilmots choosing Michy Batshuayi alongside Divock Origi over Dries Mertens and Lukaku.
The hosts piled on the pressure early in the match and Finland rarely crossed the halfway line but Hredecky made several good saves and Batshuayi headed against the post.
Against the run of play, Finland took the lead when Kasper Hamalainen scored past Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois in the 53rd minute, sparking a chorus of disapproving whistles from the Belgian crowd.
"All teams seem to defend against us and wait for their one chance," Lukaku said.
Wilmots reacted immediately by bringing on Mertens and Christian Benteke for Batshuayi and Origi and the introduction of a third striker in Lukaku finally produced the equaliser.
Belgium are in European Championship Group E along with Italy, Ireland and Sweden. Their first game is against Italy on June 13.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Francesco Guarascio and Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Ed Osmond)