Belgium v Slovakia: Ivan Schranz's goal earns side shock win at Euro 2024

belgium v slovakia: ivan schranz's goal earns side shock win at euro 2024

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JUNE 17: Romelu Lukaku of Belgium reacts during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Belgium and Slovakia at Frankfurt Arena on June 17, 2024 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Stu Forster / Getty Images)

Slovakia secured one of the biggest shocks in European Championship history when they defeated Belgium 1-0 after a controversial Group E clash in Frankfurt on Monday.

Ivan Schranz's first-half goal, after an error from Manchester City winger Jeremy Doku, turned out to be the winner as Slovakia, 48th in the Fifa rankings, sealed victory over a Belgian side ranked third in the world.

For Belgium's record goalscorer Lukaku, it was a night he will want to forget as the striker saw two goals disallowed after VAR checks and the forward – who has just spent a season on loan at Serie A side Roma from Premier League Chelsea – missed numerous other good chances.

The defeat brought Belgium's 15-match unbeaten run to an end and means they will have to pick themselves up quickly for the second game against Romania – who hammered Ukraine 3-0 earlier in the day – on Saturday.

“I knew that eventually we would lose a game. Unfortunately it was today,” said Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco. “There's not much I can tell the team to improve, we created many chances, and had we scored it would have been an easier game.

“The only thing that we didn't do well was missing chances. We had plenty. It's part of the game. Of course the players were disappointed.”

Doku had caused early chaos in the Slovakia defence with his surging runs forward, two of which could and should have ended with goals for Lukaku.

The first saw him fire straight at Martin Dubravka from close range with the goal at his mercy. The next saw the striker round the Slovakia goalkeeper but push the ball too wide with Leandro Trossard taking possession but his eventual cross flew straight into Dubravka's hands – much to Lukaku's evident frustration.

Within minutes, Belgium had been made to pay for Lukaku's wastefulness after a dreadful error from Doku led to the opening goal.

The winger gave away possession trying to play the ball back into his own penalty area from outside and while Koen Casteels saved the first effort from Juraj Kucka, the rebound fell to Schranz who finished well from a tight angle.

There were chances at both ends just before the break. Slovakia nearly went 2-0 up when Casteels produced a superb one-handed save to turn away Lukas Haraslin's volley from inside the penalty area.

Then Lukaku wasted a third opportunity when he was put clear by Yannick Carrasco's ball over the top but the 31-year-old's first touch was poor and the ball flew past Dubravka and harmlessly wide.

Ten minutes after the break and another chance for Lukaku, this time firing a shot straight at Dubravka who parried out. From the resulting short corner, Amadou Onana headed the cross down at tge back post and Lukaku finally found the back of the bet at the fifth time of asking, only for VAR to rule him narrowly offside.

The Belgium pressure was now relentless. In a few manic minutes, Dubravka saved well from Trossard, Lukaka volleyed into the side netting from an acute angle with attempt No 6, while David Hancko brilliantly blocked a shot from substitute Johan Bakayoko on the line.

But it looked like Slovakia's brave effort was going to fall agonisingly short when Belgium appeared to have levelled the scores with four minutes to go.

Lois Openda, who has just come off the bench, did superbly down the left before finding Lukaku who found the back of the net for a second time. But once again VAR was to intervene, this time ruling Openda had handled the ball before racing down the left to cross for the luckless Lukaku.

And so Slovakia were able to hang for three points to beat Belgium for the first big shock of Euro 2024 and leave the Red Devils with a mountain to climb if they want to reach the knockout stages.

“It's a huge victory,” said Slovakia keeper Dubravka, who plies his club trade at English side Newcastle United. “We worked hard to do that and fought until the end. You need to be a little bit lucky in the games like this, but we were. It's an amazing victory.

“When we are a good team, we can deal with individuality. We came into the tournament great and that will give us plenty of strength. Now we have to recover well and get ready for the next game [against Ukraine on Friday].”

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