Euro 2024

June 17, 2024

Tedesco frustrated by VAR drama as Belgium suffer Euro shock

Tedesco frustrated by VAR drama as Belgium suffer Euro shock

Belgium’s players gather in a huddle after the UEFA Euro 2024 Group E football match between Belgium and Slovakia at the Frankfurt Arena in Frankfurt am Main on June 17, 2024. (Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP)

Belgium boss Domenico Tedesco admitted he was frustrated by the controversial VAR decision that condemned his side to a shock 1-0 defeat against Slovakia in their Euro 2024 opener on Monday.

Tedesco’s team were rocked by Ivan Schranz’s seventh-minute goal in Frankfurt, but would have escaped with a draw if Romelu Lukaku’s late strike had been allowed to stand.

After missing a host of chances earlier in the Group E clash, Lukaku fired home from Lois Openda’s cross in the 86th minute.

But the striker’s celebrations were dramatically curtained with the players in position to restart the game as VAR ruled Openda had handled after being shoved into the ball earlier in the attack.

Lukaku also had an earlier goal disallowed for offside when he slotted home from Amadou Onana’s header.

“It’s tough to speak. If we had won I could tell you more about my opinion. But we lost and I want to be seen as a fair manager so I don’t say anything,” Tedesco said.

“We have to trust these guys. I trust the VAR. If they decide it’s handball, we have to accept it.”

Slovakia are 45 spots below third-placed Belgium in FIFA’s world rankings.

But Belgium have made a habit of underachieving at major tournaments and once again they are in danger of wasting the potential of their talented squad.

The Belgians’ first defeat in 15 games ended Tedesco’s unbeaten run since he replaced Roberto Martinez.

“For me it hurts a lot tonight. I don’t want to point the finger at people. You can be sure we will speak about many things but we will do it interally and not through the media,” Tedesco said.

“I knew we would lose one day but unfortunately it was today. Honestly there is not much I can say to the team to improve.

“We created many chances, big chances. Of course if we take one, then it makes the game easier.”

On Lukaku’s remarkably profligate performance, he added: “Romelu has been playing for Belgium for a long time. He knows how to score goals, I don’t need to tell him that. He is a top class player with great character.”

Belgium face Romania, 3-0 winners against Ukraine on Monday, in a crucial clash on Saturday.

Another loss would likely end Belgium’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages and Tedesco said: “Naturally everyone is disappointed but you can harness that. You can make use of it.

“I always said our group would be very tricky and shouldn’t assume that we will go through.”