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Romania win Group E, Slovakia reaches knockouts after draw at UEFA Euro 2024


FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Romania and Slovakia got the 1-1 draw that sent both teams into the round of 16 at the European Championship on Wednesday, with the Romanians topping Group E ahead of Belgium.

During a thunderstorm and pounding rain midway through the second half, both teams chased a winning goal in a frenetic spell of play despite the tied score suiting them both.

Romania advanced atop the group with Slovakia in third because second-place Belgium drew 0-0 with last-place Ukraine, which is eliminated. Belgium will play France in the round of 16.

Slovakia led in the 24th minute when Ondrej Duda directed a powerful header down into the corner of the net.

Răzvan Marin leveled in the 37th from a penalty awarded after a two-minute video review to decide if Ianis Hagi was tripped inside the area.

Romania will now play in the knockout round for the first time since Euro 2000 when Hagi’s father, national soccer icon Gheorghe, was captain in the No. 10 jersey now worn by his son.

When the soccer anthem “Freed From Desire” played after the final whistle, both sets of fans were singing and jumping in celebration with the players. Romanian fans far outnumbered the Slovaks with yellow-shirted supporters in about two thirds of the Waldstadion area.

Romania’s reward is going into what shapes as the weaker half of the knockout bracket, separated until the final from in-form Spain and Portugal plus France and Germany.

Next for Romania is playing a third-place team in Munich with a five full days rest before that game on Tuesday.

Belgium plays France in a standout pairing on Monday in Duesseldorf. Slovakia could face Spain on Sunday in Cologne.

Allocating the four third-place teams in the round of 16 bracket will be confirmed after Group F games finish later Wednesday.

Pre-game speculation across Europe had been that Romania and Slovakia could contrive a draw to ensure both advanced.

That idea was banished by the energy of both team’s early attacks in 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit) heat before the storm rolled in, then their commitment through the sweeping rain.

The Slovaks took a first-half lead for the third straight game and the 24th minute was the longest their fans had to wait.

From a high cross, Duda put power into his header back across goal beyond the dive of goalkeeper Florin Niță.

Hagi had wasted Romania’s clearest shooting chance before his direct running led to the penalty.


AP Euro 2024: