FRANKFURT: Belgium suffered the first upset of the UEFA Euro 2024 finals as Ivan Schranz scored Slovakia’s quickest goal at a major tournament to earn a 1-0 Group E victory.

The Belgians had two goals ruled out by VAR on the way to a first defeat in 16 games under Domenico Tedesco. It was an unwelcome reminder of their disastrous 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar.

Both disallowed goals were ‘scored’ by Romelu Lukaku. The first was ruled out for offside and the second for a handball.

Tedesco’s side dominated the 90 minutes, but lacked a clinical touch and when they did find it they were denied by the VAR and scrambling Slovakia defence.

Belgium were without their preferred central defensive pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Arthur Theate and with left winger Jeremy Doku playing on the right in the first half and Yannick Carrasco as a left wing back, there was a lack of balance to the team.

It was that uncertainty that led to Slovakia’s opener as Doku’s poor ball into his own box was not dealt with by the defence and when Juraj Kucka’s effort was saved, the ball fell to Schranz who beat Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels from a tight angle in the seventh minute.

Belgium will feel they should have been 1-0 up by then as Lukaku was foiled from point-blank range by Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka after Doku’s mesmerising run from his own half.

That was the first of three big chances in the half for Lukaku, who had scored 17 goals in 11 games under Tedesco.

Slovakia had opportunities too. Casteels had to make a superb diving save from Lukas Haraslin’s excellent volley, and they showed excellent defensive discipline as every tackle was celebrated by the Slovak players as if they had scored a goal.

Belgium came close again when a goalmouth scramble ended with substitute Johan Bakayoko shooting for what seemed a certain goal, only for Slovakia defender David Hancko to clear the ball off the line.

They were denied again when Lois Openda handled the ball after his persistence of the left-hand side had set up Lukaku.

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