Belgium through, heartbreak for Ukraine

Left: Kevin De Bruyne, Right: Artem Dovbyk Source: Euro 2024 x

Belgium secured a hard-fought second-place finish in Group E of Euro 2024 after a goalless draw against a valiant Ukraine side. Ukraine left the pitch heartbroken, despite an impressive performance against the Red Devils.
Despite finishing on equal points with group winners Romania, Ukraine were eliminated on goal difference. Belgium, who only managed one victory against Romania after a surprising opening defeat to Slovakia, will now face France in the round of 16.

A surprising move from Ukrainian coach Serhiy Rebrov saw Oleksandr Zinchenko benched, although he was brought on as a substitute in the second-half. They were also forced to cope without Chelsea star Mykhailo Mudryk, who suffered a late injury, possibly during a gym session or warm-up.

Belgium, sporting their unique blue and brown jerseys inspired by the iconic Tintin comics, started aggressively, launching numerous attacks into the Ukrainian half. Kevin De Bruyne controlled the midfield, while Jeremy Doku provided blistering runs and dangerous cutbacks down the left flank. However, they struggled to truly break down a resolute Ukrainian defence.

The first-half’s only notable moment from Belgium came from a set-piece situation. De Bruyne surprised Ukrainian goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin with a shot, but it sailed narrowly wide. Ukraine also showed promise with several counter-attacks, but were unable to convert them into goals.

The second-half saw Trubin deny Carrasco’s powerful shot, with the rebound falling to Doku. The young forward’s shot from outside the box was then blocked by a rival defender, resulting in a corner. Similarly, Ukraine’s Malinovskyi threatened with a venomous corner kick that nearly caught out Belgian ‘keeper Casteels, who managed to palm it away .

In the dying moments, Ukraine almost pulled off an upset. Malinovskyi unleashed a thunderous strike from distance, but Jan Vertonghen bravely threw himself in the way to block the shot and preserve the draw.

Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian forward who already had three goals ruled out by VAR in this tournament, once again missed several chances, as he continued to search for his first goal of the competition.

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