Belgium are through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 after a nervy 1-0 win over Portugal in Seville.
Cristiano Ronaldo was denied a record international goal to set him clear of Ali Daei, as the holders limped out of the Euros with just the one win across their four games. Belgium, meanwhile, remain one of the favourites after a superb performance, in which they clung onto their one-goal advantage for the second half.
The first 20 minutes were a scrappy affair, back and forth between Belgium and Portugal, the Portuguese quick out of the blocks, with Diogo Jota firing wide out Thibaut Courtois's goal. Cristiano Ronaldo got his first sight of goal around 25 minutes, when a knuckleball free-kick from outside the area stung Courtois's gloves.
The game heated up with Portugal raising the pace throughout the first half but neither side had clear opportunities. Thomas Meunier hit a curling shot over from the outside of his right foot for the Belgians, while Diogo Dalot hit a shot wide - though the Milan full-back was flagged offside.
The deadlock was broken in the 41st minute, however - and not by the Hazard we perhaps expected. A Belgian counter-attack saw Lukaku jostling with Ruben Dias; the ball fell to Meunier who played it out to Thorgan Hazard, who smacked the ball beyond the reach of Rui Patricio. Patricio was inches away from getting a finger on the ball but was beaten by the swerve of the shot.
Belgium went into half-time rampant. The Red Devils could have perhaps had two before the break, after De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku burst forward on the break, in an ultimately squandered attack. Joao Paulinha was booked for scything down De Bruyne, who received lengthy treatment for the challenge.
⚠️ 𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐋𝐃𝐈𝐄 𝐀𝐋𝐄𝐑𝐓! ⚠️That Thorgan Hazard strike moved more through the air than a @Jimmy9 out-swinger 🤩#BELPOR | #ITVFootball | #Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/rj14NyWm7nJune 27, 2021
Kevin De Bruyne lasted two minutes into the second half before being hauled off, replaced by Dries Mertens. De Bruyne, who missed the first the first game of the tournament after a fractured eye socket sustained in the Champions League final, appeared to be in real discomfort after the challenge - but left the field hoping that his Euros wasn't over completely.
By 55 minutes, Portugal had already rolled the dice to take off Premier League duo Bernardo Silva and Joao Moutinho, who looked lethargic and ineffective. The changes looked positive too, with Diogo Jota firing a shot over the bar after Portugal had raised the tempo.
Portugal threw the kitchen sink at the Belgians, too. Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix and Andre Silva all got onto the field and each had half-chances for the Portuguese, as Renato Sanches orchestrated and Cristiano Ronaldo dropped deeper to combine with his teammates.
Belgium felt they should have been a man up for the last 15 minutes or so. After Romelu Lukaku went down with a head injury, Pepe shoved into Thorgan Hazard, sparking bitter arguments between Lukaku and Pepe. The 38-year-old Portugal stalwart was only given a yellow card.
It's a graceful game #BELPOR pic.twitter.com/30ADllk9SnJune 27, 2021
Perhaps Portugal's most dangerous efforts came from defence. First the two sides of Manchester combined, only to be foiled by Courtois; Bruno Fernandes's whipped corner met the head of a ferocious Dias header, which was straight at the Belgian keeper. A couple of minutes later, Courtois could do nothing about Raphael Guerreiro's long-range drive, which whistled past him and smacked his post.
Portugal ramped up the tempo late on but couldn't find the breakthrough, despite the galaxy of talent on the field for them. The Euro 2016 champions will next be in action at the delayed Nations League finals later this year.
Belgium face Italy in the next round.
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