18.06.2024 18:29 h

Belgium's Vertonghen has 'a lot of confidence' in under-fire Lukaku

Jan Vertonghen said on Tuesday he has "a lot of confidence" in Romelu Lukaku after the Belgium striker endured a frustrating outing in their shock opening defeat by Slovakia at Euro 2024.

Lukaku, Belgium's all-time record scorer with 85 international goals, missed several chances and had two goals ruled out by VAR as they slipped to a surprise 1-0 loss.

The 31-year-old was playing his first major tournament match since missing a series of gilt-edged opportunities against Croatia as Belgium were dumped out of the 2022 World Cup in the group stage.

Belgium face Romania, who started their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win over Ukraine, in their second Group E match in Cologne on Saturday.

"I have a lot of confidence in Romelu, there is not one guy in this team I have more confidence in, mentally wise and quality wise," Vertonghen told reporters.

"Romelu loves these moments, that the pressure is on him, the focus is on him.

"They will be on him again on Saturday as well and I'm sure he'll find the way to the goal."

The 37-year-old Vertonghen, who said he is fit to play after recovering from a groin injury suffered while playing for Anderlecht last month, insisted the team did not need to panic.

"Obviously the team is very disappointed after yesterday's result, you always want to win the first game in a tournament to take the pressure away a bit -- the pressure that's always there, building up to a big tournament," he added.

"The pressure is still there, probably even more now. That's why we're disappointed.

"We're not disappointed in the way we played, the chances we created, the way we defended. But looking back at the game, it must give us some confidence that we were able to create those chances.

"I don't think we need to change too much, that would be a mistake in my opinion."

Belgium have now failed to score from their last 47 attempts at goal in major tournaments, following the World Cup matches against Croatia and Morocco in Qatar two years ago.

"Obviously we want to score. It means that we shoot a lot and we haven't scored," Vertonghen said.

"We scored twice yesterday, obviously they didn't count. Maybe we should work a bit on the finishing this week."