Belgium Into Last 16 As Draw Sends Ukraine Out Of Euro 2024

Belgium advanced to the Euro 2024 knockout round after a 0-0 draw against Ukraine, despite all four teams in Group E ending with four points.

Romania secured first position ahead of Belgium by scoring more goals in the group following a 1-1 tie with Slovakia, which also advanced as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Belgium fans reacted angrily at the final whistle in Stuttgart, with captain Kevin De Bruyne appearing to instruct his teammates not to go over to recognize them as the whistles and jeers grew louder.

They will face France in the following round and have been placed on the tougher side of the draw, which also includes hosts Germany, Spain, and Portugal.

Ukraine’s gallant run came to an end in agony, as they became the first team since the competition expanded to 24 teams to be eliminated with four points.

For the first time in European Championship history, all four teams in the same group entered the final round of games with the same number of points.

Leandro Trossard replaced suspended Dodi Lukebakio for Belgium, who wore an outfit inspired by comic book hero Tintin, consisting of pale blue shirts, brown shirts, and white socks.

Ukraine was missing wingers Mykhailo Mudryk and Viktor Tsygankov due to injury, so they went to three at the back, with Oleksandr Zinchenko sitting out and Roman Yaremchuk starting after scoring the winner as a substitute against Slovakia.

Ukraine fans honour fallen comrades

Ukrainian supporters presented a banner featuring the portrait of a 21-year-old soldier who died in battle last month, an image created by artificial intelligence from the photos of 182 football fans who were also slain in action.

“Peace has a price. “Thousands of football fans have been killed in the war since February 2022,” said an accompanying message, referencing to Russia’s two-year-old invasion of Ukraine.

Romelu Lukaku, who had three goals disallowed in his team’s first two games of the competition, scuffed straight at Anatoliy Trubin after a clever through ball from De Bruyne.

Yaremchuk tested Koen Casteels, and he could have given his team the lead if Artem Dovbyk had located him in the area after defeating Arthur Theate.

De Bruyne was irritated twice when a laser was directed at his face while taking free kicks, almost hitting Trubin at the near post on one occasion.

He had another curling attempt blocked shortly after Yaremchuk fizzed a pass over the Belgian area while attempting to locate Dovbyk.

Lukaku’s feeble shot was buried by Trubin, who subsequently saved a far stronger strike from Yannick Carrasco as Belgium sought the goal that would have secured first place in the group.

Ruslan Malinovskyi’s corner had Casteels frantically sweeping the ball to safety at his near post, setting up a tense conclusion with Ukraine eager for a goal that Belgium knew would spell disaster.

Johan Bakayoko curled wide for Belgium, and Malinovskyi’s piledriver was blocked by Timothy Castagne. Georgiy Sudakov was unable to find a way past Casteels in stoppage time, bringing Ukraine’s voyage to an emotional close.

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