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De Bruyne crowns Belgium's 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track

Associated Press Sunday, 23 June 2024, 05:59 Last update: about 25 days ago

In front of Belgium's royal family, King Kev sealed the win.

Belgium shook off the shock of losing to Slovakia in its opening game of the European Championship by beating Romania 2-0 on Saturday.

Kevin De Bruyne's second-half goal completed the win after Youri Tielemans scored in the second minute at Cologne Stadium.

Watching on were Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde.

“We knew what we needed to do. We needed to win otherwise we were going home," De Bruyne said. “I will do everything I can to keep the lads on track.”

This was just what Belgium needed after the Slovakia stunner, which raised the prospect of another early exit from a major tournament after being eliminated at the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.

Tielemans gave the No. 3-ranked team in the world a flying start with a goal from the edge of the area. De Bruyne converted direct from Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels' long kick in the 80th.

The result means all four teams in Group E have three points and there is all to play for in the final round of games on Wednesday, when Belgium plays Ukraine and Romania takes on Slovakia.

“I'm very relieved we won the game. It was very important to get the three points,” Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco said.

While Belgium won, there was more frustration for Romelu Lukaku, who had a third goal ruled out by VAR at these Euros.

Still, he was at the center of his team’s great start when laying the ball off for Tielemans to drive in low from the edge of the box.

Belgium has been criticized for failing to live up to expectations in the past, and its opening defeat would not have helped the confidence among the squad going into Saturday's game.

Tielemans’ goal seemed to lift the pressure, and Belgium ruled the rest of the half with 67% of possession.

Lukaku thought he scored after the break, but VAR said he strayed offside before firing past Romania keeper Florin Nita.

The longer the game went on without Belgium scoring a second, the more the tension rose.

Dennis Man could have evened the score when running through on goal, but was denied by Casteels.

The keeper then turned provider with a long punt upfield, which De Bruyne raced on to and fired home.

Tedesco thought his team took too long to seal the win.

“Scoring four or five goals tonight was possible,” he said. “It is important to create chances, but you have to kill the game earlier for sure.”

Under former Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, Portugal advanced to the knockout phase after a 3-0 win against Turkey in Group F. Georgia picked up its first ever point at a major tournament after a drawing the Czech Republic 1-1 and still has hopes of advancing.

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