STUTTGART: Belgium faced a furious reaction from their own fans after securing progress at UEFA Euro 2024 with a nervy scoreless draw in Group E against a Ukraine side who became the first to ever fall short of the knockout stage despite finishing with four points.

Romania finished as group winners after they drew 1-1 with Slovakia in the other simultaneous match. All teams finished on four points but Romania pushed the Belgians into second on goals scored. Slovakia finished above Ukraine on goal difference to advance as one of the four best third-place finishers.

Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco complained after the match after a slow bus journey to the stadium and the targeted of his players by the Romanian fans with laser pens.

Tedesco’s team were again far below their best. The best early chance fell to Romelu Lukaku, played in by Kevin De Bruyne in the seventh minute, but the burly striker fluffed his finish and the danger was easily averted, setting the tone for Belgium’s evening.

Ukraine tackled aggressively and had chances of their own but Roman Yaremchuk probably should have shot when played in rather than passing square to Artem Dovbyk.

A triple substitution by coach Serhiy Rebrov in the 70th minute failed to achieve the desired effect however while, at the other end, substitute Yannick Carrasco almost scored for Belgium with a stinging shot parried away by keeper Anatoliy Trubin.

Belgium could have snatched a late winner but Bakayoko curled his shot past the far post, and Georgiy Sudakov wasted a glorious stoppage-time chance for Ukraine after a storming attack through the middle, but he fired his shot straight at Casteels.

Tedesco said his players were struggling to understand the reaction from the fans, adding: “The message was clear, we want to play, we want to try to win. The players tried everything. If fans are whistling, we have to accept that, they can be disappointed but the players don’t understand – they are qualified for the last 16. This is most important thing to us.”