A moment of class from Thorgan Hazard showed enough to oust Portugal as Belgium continued to claim the first major trophy by reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
The Borussia Dortmund winger’s swerving drive from 25 yards arrived late in the first half. And it carried the Roberto Martinez‘s side into a mouth-watering meeting with Italy on Friday.
Portugal introduced Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes from the bench will look back on key Diogo Jota chances. And a Ruben Dias header saved, and a late Raphael Guerreiro drive that struck the post.
In addition, Kevin De Bruyne‘s fitness may dominate the headlines in the build-up to the Italy showdown in the Munich after he limped off moments after the half-time.
Furthermore, the world’s highest-ranked side may have the key holes to fill up next. But they have shown they possess the ability to fill their undoubted quality.
The efforts of Portugal come too late.
Martinez punched the air and shouted “yes” at the sound of the last whistle as Ronaldo crouched and hit the turf in frustration at Seville’s Estadio de La Cartuja.
His team had probably shown their best football in the tournament in the 45th minute, amassing 15 of the top 23 shots of the night.
Jota fired a shot, Dias warmed the hands of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with an empty header. And Guerreiro found the foot of the post, and the substitute Joao Felix dragged a late effort wide.
Manager Fernando Santos could well be asked where such a second-half display has been hiding.
On the way to the trophy in 2016, Portugal won one tournament match within 90 minutes. And in reaching the final of the last 16, they failed to promote.
The fact that they seemed reluctant to use their undisputed quality to control the games is also confusing. And Ronaldo, now 36, is preparing for another major tournament may now be the focus.
There is no doubt that he will continue to move away from former Iran striker Ali Daei given the two are currently sharing a total of 109 international goals.
Furthermore, his frustration at the final whistle was evident as, after the rise to great popularity in 2016, Portugal exclaimed deception in this regard.
Talisman Lukaku is tamed, but Belgium digs in.
Martinez is now only three wins away from delivering a major title in the team Belgium. He rightly concluded that this victory required his team to overcome the fact that Portugal’s best character is “doing exactly what they need to do in the game to win.”
So it played out, with Belgium now only beaten once in 27 appearances did enough to see the winning side do enough. Martinez will be encouraged to have his team look like a cross-cutting side.
Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, who boast more than 240 caps between them, were remembered. While players such as Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Dries Mertens all past or close to almost 100 caps emphasize the experience, Martinez should call it.
Talisman Lukaku was silent, touching the ball only 30 times. Only Bernardo Silva of Portugal, played only 56 minutes. And saw a small ball for all the outfield players to start.
And Lukaku’s indifference showed as Belgium only delivered six shots in the goal overnight. Thorgan Hazard’s effort, which moved away from Rui Patricio, was their moment to stand still. And they seemed happier to contain Portugal rather than press further.
Eden Hazard led sharply from the finish.
De Bruyne was knocked to the ground before the break and saved just seconds from the second half. At the same time, Eden Hazard led sharply from the finish.
Both will be the biggest miss against Italy. The only team like Belgium won all its team games and stayed in the tournament.
Many have allowed Roberto Mancini’s side to go all the way because of their amazing performances so far.
Belgium may not have reached such a high level of entertainment here. But no doubt they pack enough to threaten to end such opposition.
The four-time World Cup qualifiers and European Championships in 1968 will go a long way in strengthening Belgian’s hopes of a possible year.