Belgium knocked defending champions Portugal out of Euro 2020 with a 1-0 victory within the final 16 on Sunday to arrange a mouth-watering quarter-final tie towards Italy.
A Forty third-minute strike from Thorgan Hazard secured the win for Roberto Martinez’s group, who survived loads of stress from the Portuguese within the second half.
However with the final touch lacking, it was the tip of the street for Cristiano Ronaldo and a Portugal group who had triumphed in Paris 5 years in the past.
Ronaldo bows out with 5 targets from 4 video games, and is at present the event’s prime scorer. But it stays to be seen if the 36-year-old will return for a sixth Euros in Germany in 2024 or if the competitors’s all-time prime scorer will bow out of nationwide group responsibility after the Qatar World Cup subsequent yr.
Belgium have been among the many pre-tournament favourites however this was a stodgy and uninspired show they usually might want to increase their recreation considerably if they’re to get previous Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri who’re unbeaten in 31 matches.
Thorgan Hazard’s wonderful objective was their solely effort on track in the entire 90 minutes and there was little invention or aptitude from their midfield.”Within the first half we have been taking part in excessive and placing stress on Portugal, however taking a look at that second half, we’re fortunate to win,” stated Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen.
The duty towards Italy could possibly be much more tough if Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, who each got here off with knocks within the second half, are unable to get well from their newest damage woes.
Portugal started brightly and Diogo Jota wasted a terrific probability within the sixth minute, dragging his shot extensive after Renato Sanches had damaged from midfield and located him in a promising place on the left.
Ronaldo then examined Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois with a low-struck free kick as Fernando Santos’s group continued to use stress.
However Belgium grew into the sport with De Bruyne more and more influential they usually grabbed the lead three minutes earlier than the interval.
‘GRAB YOUR CHANCES’
A sensible passing transfer ended with Thomas Meunier feeding Thorgan Hazard, whose wickedly swerving shot flew previous the wrong-footed Portugal keeper Rui Patricio.
Patricio stepped to the best in anticipation of a close to publish shot however was unable to get again throughout and was crushed by an effort that flew in centrally.
“In these sorts of video games it’s important to seize your possibilities with each arms and voila, the goalkeeper anticipated me to decide on the opposite nook, so the ball went in,” stated the scorer.
Belgium suffered a blow when De Bruyne limped off with an damage three minutes after the break and Santos sought to breathe life into his aspect’s assault by introducing Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix from the bench.
Ronaldo, chopping in from the best, did nicely to search out Jota within the field however once more the ahead’s effort was off course as Belgium struggled to comprise their opponents.
Belgium’s makes an attempt to counter have been more and more uncommon and Portugal turned up the warmth within the remaining 10 minutes as they searched desperately for an equaliser.
Courtois punched away a thundering Ruben Dias header from a nook after which Raphael Guerreiro struck the publish with a candy first-time shot from the sting of the field.
Deep in added time, Portugal created one remaining alternative however Felix’s drive flashed simply extensive of Courtois’s right-hand publish.”I didn’t have a variety of work to do within the earlier three video games, however I knew that wasn’t going to be the case towards Portugal,” stated Courtois.
“I’m pleased with my group mates; they defended very nicely. Italy shall be tough too, however we’ve got proved as we speak that we’re prepared for it,” he stated.
Eden Hazard, who has struggled with accidents over the previous two seasons, went off with what seemed like a hamstring pressure three minutes from the tip.
Belgium will face Italy, who beat Austria 2-1 on Saturday, in Munich on July 2.