• Saturday, July 20, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Euro 2024: Belgium, Romania, Slovakia advance to last 16

Belgium-romelu-lukaku

Belgium, Romania, and Slovakia secured their spots in the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Wednesday, while while Ukraine were eliminated in Group E.

Romania’s 1-1 draw with Slovakia in Frankfurt earned both nations the necessary points to advance, but Ukraine’s valiant effort in a 0-0 draw against Belgium fell short.

All four teams finished the group stage with four points, but Ukraine’s 3-0 loss to Romania in their opening match left them at the bottom of the group on goal difference.

Belgium, expected to dominate the group, will now face France in the last 16 after finishing second. Slovakia advances as one of the best third-placed teams and will learn their next opponents, along with Romania, after the final Group F matches on Wednesday.

Belgium’s mix of veteran talent and emerging stars have yet to find their rhythm in Germany, leading to frustration among their supporters. At the final whistle in Stuttgart, captain Kevin De Bruyne appeared to instruct his teammates not to acknowledge the crowd amidst growing whistles and jeers.

Ukraine became the first team since the expansion of the Euros to 24 teams to be eliminated from the group stage with four points. In a tale of near-misses, Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels narrowly prevented a corner from crossing the line and denied Georgiy Sudakov a stoppage-time winner. Despite their exit, the Ukrainian team received a hero’s reception from their supporters.

“A strong nation is one that remains united and supports each other at all times, both in defeat and victory,” wrote Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Telegram. “Today we thank the Ukrainian national football team. Despite the disappointing result, you fought for our country… Glory to Ukraine!”

In Frankfurt, Romania progressed to the knockout stages of a European Championship for the first time in 24 years by coming from behind to secure a point. Slovakia took the lead in the 24th minute when Ondrej Duda powered home a header.