De Bruyne helps Belgium bounce back with Euros win over Romania


ESPN FC label Youri Tielemans the star of Belgium's win vs. Romania

Gab Marcotti and Nedum Onuoha agree that midfielder Youri Tielemans was the standout player in Belgium's 2-0 win over Romania.

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 Euro 2024 Saturday night special played in an astonishing atmosphere in Cologne, with the only mystery being how there were only two goals.

It meant that, for the first time in European Championship history, all four teams in a group are on equal points after two rounds, following Ukraine's 2-1 win over Slovakia on Friday. All outcomes are now available on the final night on Wednesday when Belgium play Ukraine and Slovakia play Romania, where four points could be enough to top the group but could also see a team eliminated.

Romania and Belgium have the advantage with a plus-one goal difference. Slovakia are on zero and Ukraine on -2, with those goal differences the deciding factor should both games end level.

"I liked the second game a little more," Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco said. "Today, from my point of view the result was good. Romania left more space than Slovakia did.

"Now for a moment we are a little released and happy to book these three points and see for the next game how we're prepared."

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.

Romania, of course, are also still in the hunt to reach the knockout stage for only the second time, having failed to even qualify for the last six World Cups following their golden era of the 1990s.

"We had a great start to the tournament, now let's see how we deal with difficulty. We need solidarity and unity because we are still first in the group," their coach Edward Iordanescu said.

"It's a most complicated group -- a third goal would have been really bad for us."