- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BRUSSELS (AP) - Romelu Lukaku scored two minutes from time to give a dominating Belgium only a 1-1 draw against Finland and avoid a major upset ahead of the European Championship.

After relentless attacking to avoid a humiliating home defeat, Dries Mertens sent a in a cross that finally fooled standout goalie Lukas Hradecky, who could slap the ball only onto the chest of Lukaku right on the line.

Earlier, sloppy defending by Thomas Vermaelen and Axel Witsel in the 53rd minute allowed Kasper Hamalainen to sneak through the center to latch on to a cross and easily beat goalkeeper Thibault Courtois.

Belgium, one of the favorites for Euro 2016, opens its campaign in Group E against Italy on June 13.

“We should have won today, so it is up to us to learn from this,” said Lukaku, who was supposed to rest Wednesday and was only brought on to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

Belgium experimented in attack and defense. Coach Marc Wilmots started with Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi as center forward and he came no closer to scoring than heading a cross onto the post in the 38th minute.

In defense, the central Tottenham pair of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were placed on the wings. Belgium has been hit with multiple injuries in defense, and played with Thomas Vermaelen and Jason Denayer at the back.

Finland, ranked 61st in the world, was kept in the game by Hradecky who capped his great game with a superb save from a shot by Mertens in the final moments of the match at the King Baudouin Stadium.

Belgium also faces Sweden and Ireland in the group stage.

Belgium had beaten Switzerland 2-1 last Sunday and will play Norway next Sunday before leaving for the tournament in France.

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