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Six-goal Romania dampen Belgium spirits

Belgium 1-6 Romania
Inspired by Florin Matei, Romania sent the near 4,000 crowd inside the Lotto Arena home disappointed as they opened Group A with a big win.

Six-goal Romania dampen Belgium spirits
Six-goal Romania dampen Belgium spirits ©UEFA.com

Quarter-finalists two years ago, Romania have one foot in the knockout stage courtesy of an opening-night victory against UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 hosts Belgium. 

Romania were beaten by the home team in their first match at Croatia 2012, but history seldom seemed likely to repeat itself in Antwerp. Florin Matei scored one and set up three more as Nelu Stancea's men started with an emphatic Group A win, sealed by Saad Salhi's own goal.

Having given a rousing rendition of the national anthem, the Belgium fans raised the decibel level a notch further when Omar Rahou volleyed wide Valentin Dujacquier's near pitch-length pass early on. That stirred Romania, though, and after Cosmin Gherman flashed a shot off target, Emil Răducu, tight on the touchline, skipped past his marker and slipped the ball beyond David Morant.

The Red Devils responded with Salhi testing Vlad Iancu, who was then sharp off his line to thwart Ahmed Sababti, one of three players in the Belgium squad from local club Futsal Topsport Antwerpen.

However, after regaining their composure, Romania were content to keep three men behind the ball, Florin Ignat often their focal point in attack. Now forcing the issue, Belgium fell two behind following another well-crafted Romania goal, the giant Florin Matei applying the finish to Dumitru Stoica's square pass. Florin Ignat ought to have made it three with the break approaching, a miss which was not to matter as Florin Matei cut out an errant Belgium pass and fed Robert Lupu.

On the ropes, Alain Dopchie's men swiftly reduced their arrears when Rahou turned in Karim Chaibai's cross-cum-shot. With the crowd back behind them, Belgium pushed, but had the post and bar respectively to thank for keeping out Stoica's low shot and a ferocious Florin Matei volley. The latter turned provider for Romania's fourth, though, teeing up Marian Șotărcă.

With Belgium deploying Lúcio as a flying keeper, Iancu's punt put the outcome beyond doubt. A red card for Rahou, now suspended for Saturday's match against Ukraine, and a Salhi own goal capped a disappointing night for the hosts.