Romelu Lukaku endured a nightmare start to Euro 2024
Romelu Lukaku endured a nightmare start to Euro 2024

VAR rules out late Belgium goal as Slovakia earn surprise 1-0 win at Euro 2024

Slovakia produced the first major shock of Euro 2024 with a 1-0 win over Belgium in Group E after Romelu Lukaku endured a day to forget.

Lukaku squandered a number of chances in Frankfurt and when he did find the net, on two occasions in the second half, both were ruled out for infringements.

It meant a fine seventh-minute strike by Ivan Schranz was enough to settle the group encounter and earn Slovakia, ranked 48th in the world, one of the best victories in their history.

Lukaku could have scored twice during the opening exchanges but had a close-range shot saved before he steered another effort off target.

It was a sign of things to come for the forward, who is still contracted to Chelsea but has not played for the club since 2022, with Belgium’s profligacy punished after seven minutes.

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A slack pass by Jeremy Doku gifted Slovakia possession and, even though Juraj Kucka was denied by Koen Casteels, Schranz was on hand to volley in from a tight angle after he had been played onside by Wout Faes.

Belgium regrouped but Leandro Trossard curled over before Lukaku could only bundle another effort wide.

The Chelsea forward thought he had levelled 11 minutes into the second half but VAR disallowed his tap-in after he was adjudged offside from Amadou Onana’s header across goal.

Heroic defending by David Hancko denied Johan Bakayoko in the 62nd minute after the Slovakia centre-back cleared off the line.

Lukaku then slammed home with four minutes left following Lois Openda’s cutback but referee Halil Umut Meler was sent to the pitchside monitor and chalked off the goal after Openda handled in the build-up to consign Belgium to a painful defeat.

Romania impress; France get the job done

Nicolae Stanciu scored the pick of the goals as Romania began their Euro 2024 campaign in style with an impressive 3-0 win over Ukraine in Munich.

Stanciu fired his side into a 29th-minute lead which they never looked like giving up as further goals from Razvan Marin and Denis Dragus sealed victory on a day to forget for Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

France meanwhile beat a well-organised and dogged Austria side 1-0, the latter having showed why many considered them a dangerous opponent in a quality group.

An own goal from Max Wöber late in the first half proved the difference as France spurned a number of chances, with Kylian Mbappe's wait for a first Euros goal seemingly set to end before he fired wide when clear on goal.

That made for a tense conclusion but a last-ditch tackle by N'Golo Kante was as awkward as it got for France, who matched England's scoreline from a day earlier having been similarly tested.

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