The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Belgium stunned by Slovakia 1-0 with VAR denying Lukaku twice at Euro 2024

Associated Press Monday, 17 June 2024, 20:59 Last update: about 29 days ago

Two Romelu Lukaku goals were ruled out by video review and Belgium fell to a stunning 1-0 loss to Slovakia in wild Group D at the European Championship on Monday.

Slovakia struck with a seventh-minute goal by forward Ivan Schranz then survived a string of misses by Belgium record scorer Lukaku, who had two second-half goals overturned, and all that playmaker Kevin De Bruyne could help create.

Slovakia’s deserved win also was preserved by defender Dávid Hancko's brave goal-line block that left him sprawled in the goal net with a face injury inflicted by a teammate’s knee.

That came in the 62nd minute, from substitute Johan Bakayoko’s close-range shot, just seven minutes after Lukaku’s first ‘goal’ was overturned when a video review spotted an offside.

The second VAR intervention in the 86th disallowed Lukaku’s powerful shot because of a handball by Loïs Openda before his decisive pass.

Lukaku set a competition record of 14 goals in a qualifying group last year, and has a record 85 for Belgium, yet somehow failed to score in a wasteful first half including twice before Slovakia led.

The drama in Frankfurt came hours after Romania upended predictions by outclassing Ukraine 3-0 in Munich.

Belgium fell to a first loss in 15 games under coach Domenico Tedesco and faces Romania in the Saturday evening game in Cologne.

Slovakia has more than one day less to prepare for facing Ukraine in Duesseldorf on Friday.

The upset was on after an error in defense by De Bruyne’s Manchester City teammate Jérémy Doku, who was pressed by opponents near his own corner flag,

Doku sent a reckless pass across his own penalty area that Schranz flicked back for Juraj Kucka to shoot. Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels saved but pushed the ball up toward Schranz for a volleyed shot from a tight angle.

Slovakia pressing was energetic on Belgium’s makeshift defense despite fielding two 37-year-olds in outfield positions. That’s a Euros record that can be broken on Tuesday if Portugal picks Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe.

Slovakia veterans Kucka andPeter Pekarík have now started all eight games Slovakia has ever played in the European finals tournament since first qualifying for the 2016 edition.

Both were in the 2010 World Cup squad that beat and eliminated defending champion Italy in the group stage, but this was Slovakia’s finest moment at the Euros and a triumph for the team’s Italian coach Francesco Calzona.

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