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Euro 2020 Explainer: Why was Romelu Lukaku’s goal against Russia not ruled offside?

Lukaku scored two goals in Belgium’s Euro opener against Russia on Saturday….

Belgium cruised to a 3-0 win over Russia in their opening game of the Euro 2020 on Saturday, with Romelu Lukaku scoring a double. 

Lukaku opened the scoring in the 10th minute before first-half substitute Thomas Meunier doubled the Red Devils’ advantage in the 34th minute. Lukaku then put the finishing touches on the victory with a neat strike late on (88′). 

The win took Belgium to the top of Group B, above Finland on goal difference, after the first group games. However, there was a measure of controversy over Lukaku’s opener, with suggestions that it was offside. 

What happened? 

Dries Mertens fired in a cross into the box in the 10th minute from the right wing. But Andrei Semenov could not deal with the delivery and Lukaku pounced on it, firing a scuffed shot past a stranded Russian goalkeeper.

However, there was controversy with many pointing out that Lukaku was in a clear offside position when the ball came in from Mertens. 

Lukaku offside

Why did VAR not disallow Lukaku’s goal?

While Lukaku looked clearly offside, the bone of contention was that Russian defender Andrei Semenov tried to clear the ball and it deflected to the Inter Milan striker. 

While many fans argued that Semenov tried to clear the ball only because of the presence of Lukaku (offside at the time), the letter of the law stated that since the defender tried to play the ball (ie control or clear), Lukaku was no longer in an illegal position. 

Lukaku dedicates the goal to Christian Eriksen

Lukaku paid tribute to Christian Eriksen after the goal, dedicating his finish to the Denmark international following his collapse against Finland on Saturday. 

Racing towards the sidelines, he waved away his team-mates coming to join him, instead heading for the nearest television camera to seize it with both hands and shout into its lens: “Chris, Chris, I love you.”


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