De Bruyne inspires Belgium to win over Romania

Kevin De Bruyne inspired Belgium to the first Euro 2024 victory they desperately required with a virtuoso display in a thrilling victory over Romania in Cologne.

Belgium were under pressure in Group E after losing their opening game to Slovakia, but responded with an outstanding attacking display to illustrate exactly why they are rated among the favourites in Germany.

In a magnificent, colourful atmosphere, Youri Tielemans’ low drive put them ahead after 73 seconds, setting the platform for Belgium to create a host of chances.

Romania managed to keep them at bay, the luckless Romelu Lukaku seing a third goal ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee in the tournament when he was adjudged to be offside from De Bruyne’s perfect pass.

Belgium and De Bruyne were not to be denied, and Manchester City’s midfielder made the game safe when he poked home from close range after 79 minutes – leaving the group on a knife-edge as all four teams have three points.

Belgium back on song

Media caption,

Youri Tielemans fires Belgium ahead in 73 seconds

Belgium put themselves under pressure by going down to the defeat against Slovakia, but responded impressively in a frenetic, all-action encounter on Saturday.

Tielemans settled any early nerves as Belgium set about a Romania side that always carried a hint of threat themselves, only to prove wasteful when they had rare chances.

Lukaku was left cursing his luck again after having another goal ruled out by VAR, but the pass by De Bruyne was a clear signal that this world-class operator was approaching the sort of form Belgium require.

Media caption,

VAR rules out Lukaku’s goal for offside

De Bruyne was at the heart of everything Belgium did, whether it was pulling the strings for others or having his own shots on target, relishing every moment of a match that always offered creative players the opportunity to flourish.

And there are few better than De Bruyne in this mood, looking at his best from the start, with one wonderful slalom cutting through Romania’s rearguard only for Dodi Lukebakio to fail to take advantage.

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Belgium double their lead through De Bruyne

Lukaku must wonder when his luck with change in Germany, the striker working tirelessly and once again able to hit the target, only to see the goal ruled out. But he showed good signs and will feel confident he will get off the mark.

There was no margin for error for Belgium going into this game, despite the Euro 2024 format reducing the jeopardy, and this display will send self-belief surging through the camp.

Belgium now have the chance to secure a place in the last 16 when they face Ukraine in their final game on Wednesday.

Romania still have hope

Romania’s fans provided deafening noise and a yellow wall of support as they arrived in Cologne on a wave of excitement after their emphatic opening win against Ukraine.

Edward Iordanescu’s side were second best on Saturday but showed enough to justify the continued optimism of the supporters who still gave them a wonderful ovation after the final whistle.

Romania did have chances to equalise, with Belgium keeper Koen Casteels acrobatically turning Andrei Burca’s header over the top shortly after Tielemans had put Belgium in front.

Their fans unfurled a giant banner reading “Pentru Tara Si Tricolori” – For The Country And The Three Colours – and there is a real unity between players and supporters, which will give them genuine hope of reaching the last 16 going into their final game against Slovakia.

Casteels was forced to save at the feet of Dennis Man as he raced clear with Romania chasing the leveller. It was a big moment – they can have no complaints about the result, but their Euro 2024 campaign still has much to offer.

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