Euro 2024: Belgium pass the Romania test | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Euro 2024: Belgium pass the Romania test

By, Mumbai
Jun 23, 2024 12:13 PM IST

Goals from Tielemans and De Bruyne get the Red Devils campaign up and running

The buzz going into the Belgium versus Romania fixture was about the manner in which the Red Devils would respond after their 0-1 defeat against Slovakia in their opening Group E fixture on Matchday 1 at Euro 2024. Would the remnants of a golden generation find inspiration with their tournament on the line against a young, talented Romanian side?

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne reacts with Jan Vertonghen and Arthur Theate after the match(REUTERS)
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne reacts with Jan Vertonghen and Arthur Theate after the match(REUTERS)

All those doubts were quickly set to rest when Youri Tielemans – one of four players brought in for this game – finished off a move he started in midfield after just 73 seconds in Cologne on Saturday. It was the third-fastest goal in European Championship history.

The early goal changed the complexion of the goal because it took the pressure off Belgium, and secondly, it meant Romania, a side that was brilliant on the counter against Ukraine in their first game, were forced to go looking for a goal. Tactically, it became a very different contest.

Belgium didn’t rest on their goal either — pushed by captain Kevin De Bruyne, they kept going forward; kept creating chances. It was crucial they did because Romania had shown enough in their first game to suggest that they had the equaliser in them.

On the day, it turned out they didn’t and Belgium added another goal through De Bruyne in the second half. It was just reward for the better team.

Koen Casteels had to make some good saves in the Belgium goal with Radu Drăgușin and Dennis Man testing him, but Romanian goalkeeper Niță had a far busier night.

A lot of that work came courtesy of Jeremy Doku, who was once again a menace for the opposition. His bag of tricks and pace allow him to get into dangerous areas and the only thing lacking at this point is the finishing touch.

The game also showed how important it is for De Bruyne to get involved for Belgium. When the game is flowing through him, the Red Devils become a different side.

"After the first game, I wasn't concerned,“ said De Bruyne later. “I don't think we played badly per se. Obviously, we made some mistakes but we created chances, even if we couldn't find the back of the net. We played well during the game [tonight] and I think we deserved the win, so I'm happy. What's important is that we're creating chances and those situations."

What Belgium have done over the first two games is create chances, and as long as you create chances, you will have a chance to score goals, as long as you have a chance to score, you have a chance to win. In the end, that is what football boils down to.

Some might argue that Belgium should have got even more goals but the performances will give Domenico Tedesco’s team a lot of confidence going forward. It will reaffirm the faith they have in their talent and show that a hungry Belgium are a different proposition.

"They're a team with lots of quality, they have speed, they have explosiveness, power,” said Romania coach Edward Iordanescu. “They are a complete team. They are candidates to win the title. We never gave up, we fought very hard. In the second half, we were better. With a bit of luck we could have got a point. We had chances to equalise."

Lukaku continued to miss chances galore and he even had one goal ruled out by VAR (by the smallest of margins) but that is par for the course. Maybe, just maybe, he is saving all the goals for the second half of the tournament.

All four teams in Group E now sit on three points and it is, at this stage, impossible to predict which teams will go through. Belgium, on current form, should beat Ukraine while the Romania vs Slovakia match is tough to call. For neutral fans, with everything to play for going into the last round of matches, it simply doesn’t get better.

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