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Belgium get back on track with win over Romania

Written by 
Published in Soccer
Saturday, 22 June 2024 15:12

A goal by Youri Tielemans after 73 seconds and a late one for Kevin De Bruyne gave Belgium a 2-0 win over Romania in an incredible game full of chances on Saturday that set up a final round showdown with all four teams in Group E on three points.

It was a Saturday night special played in an astonishing atmosphere in Cologne, with the only mystery being how there were only two goals.

All outcomes are now available on the final night of matches when Belgium play Ukraine and Slovakia play Romania, when four points could be enough to top the group but could also see a team eliminated.

Belgium, still somehow ranked third in the world by FIFA, were unrecognisable from the sluggish side shocked by Slovakia in their opening game, pouring forward and full of energy from the first whistle.

It paid dividends immediately as Romelu Lukaku held up the ball with his back to goal before rolling it into the path of Tielemans, who drilled home a crisp, low shot.

Four minutes later Romania went close with a header by Radu Dragusin that Koen Casteels saved well, but it was a brief respite as Belgium ran the first-half show.

Kevin De Bruyne sealed Belgium's win over Romania with a late goal.

Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/Getty Images


Dodi Lukebakio's fierce shot was well saved by Florin Nita after a trademark carving run by De Bruyne, while Lukebakio and Amadou Onana both blazed over when free in front of goal.

It seemed only a matter of time before they scored again, but Romania weathered the storm and, knowing how they struck so devastatingly on the counter to beat Ukraine, did not panic.

Their fans certainly stayed behind them, helping create an amazing atmosphere as noise rained down from all four stands.

The waves of Belgian attacks continued though, as Jérémy Doku fizzed a cross inches from Lukaku's head, De Bruyne curled one just past a post then had another shot smothered by Nita.

Lukaku thought he had got the second after an hour slotting home confidently from a De Bruyne through ball, only for VAR to rule it out for offside -- five days after he had two goals chalked off against Slovakia.

The incredible end-to-end action continued with Dennis Man clean through for Romania only to shoot wastefully straight at Casteels and then, incredibly, it was the Belgian keeper who set up the second goal 10 minutes from time with a Sunday league route one goal.

He launched a goal kick that evaded everyone and the ever-switched on De Bruyne seized on it to tuck the ball home for what could prove a priceless goal should the calculators be needed to split the teams next week.

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