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‘Pure slapstick’: Comical own goal cruels underdogs; $184m star’s luckless run remains —


Youri Tielemans breathed new life into Belgium’s Euro 2024 campaign as the Aston Villa midfielder’s goal after just 73 seconds inspired a vital 2-0 win against Romania on Saturday.

Domenico Tedesco’s side would have been on the brink of elimination if they had suffered a second successive Group E defeat.

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But Tielemans’ second-minute strike in Cologne eased fears of yet another major tournament flop from star-studded Belgium.

Kevin De Bruyne wrapped up the points in the closing stages to leave all four teams in the group level on three points.

The stage is set for a dramatic final round of fixtures in the battle to reach the last 16.

Belgium face Ukraine and Romania play Slovakia on June 26.

With 45 rungs separating the two nations in FIFA’s rankings, third-placed Belgium’s 1-0 loss to Slovakia on Monday was the biggest upset in European Championship history.

Romania, ranked in 47th place, competed gamely as they chased their own shock, but this time Belgium’s superior class proved decisive.

Having bowed out at the group stage of the 2022 World Cup and lost in the quarter-finals of the last two Euros, Belgium’s golden generation have given themselves fresh hope of finally delivering on their vast potential.

Youri Tielemans scored after 73 seconds. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)
Youri Tielemans scored after 73 seconds. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)Source: AFP

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Romania had powered to a 3-0 win against Ukraine on Monday — their first victory in a major tournament since beating England at Euro 2000.

Despite this loss, Edward Iordanescu’s team are still in contention to make the Euro knockout stage for the first time in 24 years.

Belgium had failed to score in over 300 minutes at major tournaments since netting against Canada at the last World Cup.

They needed less than two minutes to end that drought.

A sweeping move climaxed when Jeremy Doku’s pass found Romelu Lukaku in the Romania penalty area and he laid the ball back to Tielemans, who smashed a powerful low strike past Florin Nita from the edge of the area.

Romania’s Tottenham defender Radu Dragusin went close to equalising moments later with a towering header that Koen Casteels tipped over at full stretch.

After an injury-plagued season with Manchester City, in which he failed to reach his usual sky-high standards, De Bruyne had looked below his best against Slovakia.

Kevin de Bruyne scored Belgium’s second. (Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP)Source: AFP

The Belgium captain was far more influential this time, with a lung-bursting surge that ended with a pass to Dodi Lukebakio, whose strike was pushed away by Nita.

Doku was denied by another good stop from Nita after wriggling through the overworked Romania defence.

Valentin Mihaila wasted a golden opportunity to equalise soon after halftime, pouncing on Amadou Onana’s wayward pass and sprinting clear, only to blaze high into the stands.

De Bruyne was moving through the gears ominously, curling just past the far post from 20 yards, then drawing a smart save from Nita with a shot on the turn.

Lukaku had two goals, including a late equaliser, disallowed by VAR against Slovakia.

The striker, signed by Chelsea in 2023 for a staggering $AUD184m, was denied by VAR again in the 63rd minute when he converted De Bruyne’s pass before being ruled narrowly off-side.

Romania nearly profited from that escape as Dennis Man raced clear, but couldn’t find the accuracy to beat Casteels.

De Bruyne finally delivered the knockout blow in the 80th minute, running onto Casteels’ long punt and firing past Nita.

Belgium secured a much-needed win. (Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP)Source: AFP

PORTUGAL INTO ROUND OF 16 AFTER COMICAL OWN GOAL

Portugal outclassed Turkey to secure their place in the last 16 of Euro 2024 with a 3-0 win in Dortmund on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portuguese side, European champions in 2016, are among the favourites to win the title in Germany and they lived up to their status with a comprehensive victory in front of a partisan crowd to secure first place in Group F.

Bernardo Silva of Manchester City opened the scoring midway through the first half, sweeping the ball home after a low Nuno Mendes cross was deflected into his path.

Portugal then doubled their lead just before the half-hour mark in comical fashion.

There appeared no danger for the Turkey defence following a poor pass by Joao Cancelo aimed at Ronaldo, but Samet Akaydin’s attempted backpass rolled beyond the reach of goalkeeper Altay Bayindir and crossed the line despite the efforts of Zeki Celik to clear.

The Telegraph’s James Ducker described the moment as “an own goal of such pure slapstick that it would have been funny enough in isolation.”

Turkey never looked like getting back into the game and Portugal got their third goal early in the second half as Ronaldo found himself in on goal but unselfishly squared for Bruno Fernandes to finish.

Turkiye conceded a comical own goal. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)Source: AFP

Having already beaten the Czechs 2-1, Portugal have six points out of six and are now certain to win the section even before playing Georgia in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday.

They therefore know they will play a last-16 tie in Frankfurt on July 1 against one of the best third-place finishers.

“We are mainly very happy with the three points, with the qualification in first place, and it is just another step for being closer to our goal, a goal that is still very far away which is to try to win the cup,” said Silva.

“We are first in the group and we can make changes in the next game which for me is very important as there are lots of players in the dressing room who deserve to play,” added coach Roberto Martinez.

Ronaldo, appearing at his sixth Euros at the age of 39, will become the tournament’s oldest ever goal-scorer if he finds the net in Germany but he failed to add to his competition record tally of 14 here.

Bernardo Silva opened the scoring for Portugal. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)Source: AFP

The superstar forward, now playing in Saudi Arabia, was also approached for a selfie by several pitch invaders in the second half.

While he enjoyed the attention the first time, posing with a smile for a photograph in the centre circle, he appeared visibly irritated as the number of invaders grew.

Martinez admitted the ease with which so many fans got into the playing area was a concern.

“It is a concern because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good,” he said.

“If those intentions are wrong then the players are exposed and we need to be careful with that.

“I don’t think that should happen on a football pitch.”

Despite the defeat, Vincenzo Montella’s Turkey — who beat Georgia 3-1 in their opening game — will qualify from the group in second place if they avoid defeat against the Czechs.

Portugal are into the knockout stages at Euro 2024. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP)Source: AFP

WORLD NO. 72 CELEBRATE ‘HISTORIC’ RESULT IN GRITTY DRAW

Earlier, Patrik Schick chested home to earn the Czechs a 1-1 draw against debutants Georgia in an entertaining match in Hamburg, but it leaves both teams in a tricky spot in the section.

Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili made a string of superb saves to keep his team in the game and they took the lead just before the break through Georges Mikautadze’s penalty.

However Schick reprised his Euro 2020 goalscoring heroics with an improvised finish to leave honours even at the end of a pulsating clash.

Both sides are off the mark, with Georgia getting their first ever point, but they each face having to win their next game if they are to remain in the competition.

“I am quite happy and satisfied just for being here … our first point is a historic moment,” Mamardashvili said.

“We will have a very difficult match against Portugal, they are one of the best teams at the tournament but we will do our best, and we will see.” “We don’t want to go home yet. We will fight until the very end against Turkey so we can get into the knockout rounds,” said Czech coach Ivan Hasek.



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