Belgium draws France next, as Euro 2024’s oddest group ends with all teams level

Kevin De Bruyne could not break the deadlock as Belgium’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine clinched qualification for the knockout round — but landed it a daunting Round of 16 clash with tournament favorite France.

De Bruyne was twice denied by Ukraine keeper Anatoliy Trubin as things wrapped up in the tournament’s quirkiest group, with all four teams finishing level on four points.

Belgium’s result in Stuttgart meant it placed second behind Romania on goals scored, as a series of tiebreakers came into effect. It will now meet Kylian Mbappé & Co. in Dusseldorf on Monday, in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup semifinal.

In Frankfurt, Razvan Marin’s penalty equalizer after 37 minutes clinched top spot for Romania, securing a 1-1 draw against Slovakia and canceling out Ondrej Duda’s earlier header.

Romania must now wait until Group F concludes before discovering who it plays in the Round of 16, while Slovakia, advancing as a third-placed team, will meet either Spain or England. Ukraine, such an inspirational story given the issues faced back home, could count itself unfortunate to be eliminated.

Despite lacking some of the star power of other groups, the unusual nature of how Group E played out contributed to making it one of the more entertaining of the competition.

Beginning with an upset last week when Slovakia stunned Belgium, it was never dull, with perhaps the sole exception of the closing stages of Wednesday’s Romania/Slovakia matchup. With both teams assured of advancing with a tie, the final minutes were played at a pace best described as pedestrian.

Not so in the other game. Ukraine knew its impending fate and threw players forward in search of the victory it needed. Its best chance came when Ruslan Malinovskyi whipped in a cheeky attempt directly from a corner and Koen Casteels stopped it from creeping over the line by the narrowest of margins.

Ukraine vs. Belgium Highlights

Ukraine vs. Belgium Highlights

As the game opened up, Belgium tried to find a balance between avoiding a defeat that would lead to elimination, and pushing for a win that would improve its prospects in the net round.

Perhaps appropriately for a group where the teams seemed glued together, it ended all-square.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.


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