FREIBURG, Germany (Reuters) – Belgium full back Artur Theate moved swiftly on Sunday to refute alleged criticism of coach Domenico Tedesco for being too slow to take him off in their 2-0 win over Romania at the European Championship on Saturday.

Theate signalled to the bench to be substituted after 77 minutes of the victory in Cologne, which gave Belgium their first points in Group E after losing their opener to Slovakia.

“I want to put something right,” Theate said at the start of his press conference.

“It was written yesterday that I was critical of the coach and that he needs to change faster. I understand that you have to write something, but I don’t like it when you distort things,” he told reporters.

“I only said that if we had scored more goals earlier in the game, we could have changed to keep everyone fresh. But I never said that he should change faster.”

It was Theate’s first game back after a lengthy injury layoff and he explained why he asked to be substituted.

“I felt very good during the match. I didn’t feel any discomfort, just like in training, until the 70th minute. I was also a bit tired, but that’s not why I asked to be taken off.

“I took a big hit on my thigh, I felt it pulling a bit and thought not take any risks.”

Theate, 24, is the first choice left back in the squad and said beating Romania was an injection of confidence.

“But we never doubted ourselves, we played strongly. Now we have to get three points again on Wednesday.”

Belgium meet Ukraine in Stuttgart in their last group match, with progress to the last 16 still up in the air.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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