All four teams in Group E at Euro 2024 head into Matchday 3 tied on three points. Check out the best facts, stats and Opta data from this game with our Belgium vs Romania stats page.

In the lead-up to Euro 2024, there was a fair amount of talk as to whether the remaining remnants of Belgium’s golden generation could take what might just be their final chance to do something historic on the grandest stage.

Their 1-0 defeat to Slovakia on Matchday 1 had suggested this talented bunch would again go trophyless, but with players as exceptional as captain Kevin De Bruyne in tow, there will always be the chance that something great can happen.

The Manchester City playmaker was the best player on the pitch against Romania, running the game and scoring a second goal to wrap up a win that leaves Group E more open than any group has ever been in European Championship history. For the first time ever, all four teams in a Euros group head into the final matchday tied on three points apiece. It means all four teams can still finish in any position.

Typically, it’s hard to predict whether Belgium will finish first or last. But their response to defeat last week suggested there is plenty of life in this team yet.

When manager Domenico Tedesco dreamed up his gameplan for what was a must-win game, he surely could not have imagined it starting anything like as perfectly as this.

Belgium had toiled in front of goal against Slovakia. Yes, they had two goals disallowed, but the history books will forever show yet another blank by their name. That performance followed on from a 2022 World Cup in which they scored just one goal.

But after a run of 47 goalless shots at major tournaments, Youri Tielemans – one of four players brought in for this game – won the ball in midfield to start a move that he would then finish off with the first shot of the game after just 73 seconds. It was the third-fastest goal in European Championship history.

Belgium 2-0 romania xg race

That goal completely altered the kind of game that would be played out in Cologne. In their first match, Romania had beaten Ukraine with just 29% of the ball – the lowest possession share by a victorious team on record at the Euros (since 1980) – and they would have had little reason to play differently against a Belgium side stacked with expensive attacking talent had the scores stayed level.

Instead, Romania had to go looking for an equaliser, and that opened the game up from a far earlier stage than they would have wanted. They forged a couple of decent openings, but for the rest of the first half it was actually more common to see a Romania attack leading to a dangerous Belgium counter than it was a chance for Edward Iordănescu’s side.

Belgium passed with more fluency and looked a more coherent outfit than they had in their last outing, with De Bruyne central to everything they did. Teammate Wout Fes was the only player from either side to have more touches (81) than him (68), while only Jérémy Doku (5) created more chances (3). Nobody on the pitch had more shots (5), more shots on target (3), made more tackles (4) or won more fouls (4) than the Belgium captain.

Kevin de Bruyne touches vs Romania

Even so, when it came to finishing off moves, Tedesco’s men were back to the profligate team we saw against Slovakia. They dominated possession and territory for long periods, and De Bruyne, Doku, Romelu Lukaku, and Dodi Lukébakio all had good opportunities they couldn’t take,

Romania had the chance to regroup at half-time, and they came out after the break looking up for the challenge of finding a way back into the game. The longer Belgium went on without finding that crucial second goal, the more it felt there might be a way back into the game for the underdogs.

Romania had a couple of good chances to level the game, too. Valentin Mihaila fired a warning shot just after the break, and right-back Andrei Ratiu was only denied a clear run on goal by a good recovery tackle from Jan Vertonghen. The former Tottenham defender became the third-oldest player to appear for Belgium at a major international tournament, aged 37 years and 59 days.

The game remained on a knife edge, though, and when Lukaku had a goal disallowed by the VAR for the most marginal of offsides, Belgium might have started to wonder whether this tournament was going to be cursed and that this would be the end of the road for Vertonghen, De Bruyne and Lukaku on the international stage. Lukaku would have been feeling worse than anyone else on the pitch, having scored both disallowed goals in the defeat to Slovakia.

Romania very nearly – and probably should – have drawn level moments later when Dennis Man ran through on goal but hit his shot straight at Casteels. It was a key stop, but Casteels was to make his most telling contribution of the game shortly afterwards – going the other way.

He launched a long ball all the way up the field, at which point the Romania defenders hesitated and De Bruyne pounced. The midfielder raced after the loose ball and into the Romania box, expertly controlling his finish past Florin Nita to double Belgium’s lead and settle his teammates’ nerves. The relief among the celebrating players was palpable.

The victory leaves Group E as open as it could possibly be. It’s all to play for, but with De Bruyne on form like this, Belgium really should be favourites to beat Ukraine and seal their passage into the knockout stage.

Our Opta match centre delivers you all the Belgium vs Romania stats from their Euro 2024 Group E meeting.

The match centre below includes team and player stats, expected goals data, passing networks, an Opta chalkboard and more. It gives you everything you need to do your own match analysis.

Underneath the match centre you can find the official Opta stats on the game as well. 

Belgium vs Romania: Post-Match Facts

  • With their first victory of Euro 2024 (L1), Belgium have continued their run of winning at least once in all seven of their appearances at the UEFA European Championship.
  • For the first time in the history of the UEFA European Championship group stage, all four teams in a single group will be level on points going into the final round of matches.
  • Youri Tielemans’ strike after one minute and 13 seconds is Belgium’s earliest ever goal at a major tournament (World Cup/Euros), and the third-fastest overall in UEFA European Championship history, after Russia’s Dmitry Kirichenko (1:05) against Greece in 2004 and Albania’s Nedim Bajrami (23 seconds) against Italy this month.
  • Romania have failed to win their second match in all six appearances at the UEFA European Championship (D2 L4). Indeed they’ve only won one of their last nine matches in the competition (D3 L5).
  • Since the 2014 World Cup (his first major tournament), no Belgian has been involved in more Euro/World Cup goals than Kevin De Bruyne (13, level with Lukaku and Eden Hazard) – 4 goals and 9 assists.
  • Belgium’s Youri Tielemans scored his first goal at a major tournament (World Cup/Euros) for Belgium (13th appearance), while five of his eight goals in total for his country have come from outside the box.
  • Kevin De Bruyne had five shots against Romania, his most in a UEFA European Championship match since 2016 against Hungary (7). No player on the pitch had more shots, shots on target (3), made more tackles (4) or won more fouls (4) than the Belgium captain.
  • Jan Vertonghen (37 years, 59 days) became the oldest player to appear for Belgium at the UEFA European Championships and the third-oldest at a major tournament (EUROs + World Cup), after Pierre Braine in 1938 (37y 222d) and Wilfried Van Moer in 1982 (37y 119d).

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