Fourth group has four sides locked on four

In the first-ever meeting between the two nations, Belgium and Ukraine could not be separated as they laboured to a 0-0 draw, and after all four sides finished with four points in Group E of the UEFA European Championships, Dominic Todesco’s men finished second behind Romania on goals scored. Ukraine, meanwhile are the odd ones out, finishing bottom on goal difference with their heavy defeat to Romania on MD1 coming back to haunt them.

With all four sides in the group sitting on three points ahead of kick-off, everything was to play for. Belgium started in full control however, with a high press proving effective against a deep lying Ukraine defence. No matter how tight a defence, Kevin De Bruyne has always managed to unlock it and pick a pass throughout his career, and this was the case inside seven minutes after his expertly picked out Romely Lukaku, but his tournament of bad luck continued as he didn’t get enough on his shot to roll it past Anatoliy Trubin. After the fast start, Belgium began to become unstuck as the Ukrainian defence stood firm, frustrating their opponents. Serhiy Rebrov’s men began to grow into the game as the half wore on but created only half-chances that failed to test Koen Casteels in the Belgian goal – sending both sides goalless into the HT interval.

Both sides’ struggles continued after the break with neither goalkeeper being tested in their respective goals. Lukaku fashioned a chance just after the hour mark when cutting in from the right, but again, his tame effort was comfortably gathered by Trubin. Yannick Carrasco provided some much needed energy to the contest when introduced in the 62nd minute, and he almost broke the deadlock after cutting in from the left and rifled a shot from the edge of the box but Trubin made a strong stop. Ruslan Malinovskyi came the closest for Ukraine after his corner kick almost caught Casteels out and curled goalwards, but the goalkeeper made a last ditch save right on the goalline.

In the end, both sets of players failed to find the elusive goal, and Slovakia and Romania’s 1-1 draw in Frankfurt ensured that goal difference and goals scored were the decisive factors for qualification. Things do not get any easier for Belgium after stuttering their way to the Round of 16, with France up next.

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