Thorgan Hazard converted beautifully from distance with a swerving effort that left goalkeeper Rui Patricio with no chance.
The defending European champions are out of Euro 2020 as Portugal lost 1-0 to an extremely well-drilled Belgium team in the round of 16 on Sunday. Portugal was the dominant side in the second half as they created most of the chances but none of their forwards could find that finishing touch.
They came close on two occasions. A Ruben Dias header from a Bruno Fernandes corner was directed straight at Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. A few moments later, Raphael Guerreiro hit the post from a half-volley. Belgium’s goal was scored by Thorgan Hazard as he converted beautifully from distance with a swerving effort that left Rui Patricio with no chance.
It has been a horrid tournament from the defending champions so far. They struggled to find the net for the majority of the match against Hungary and were beaten 4-2 by Germany. They played well in the 2-2 draw against world champions France but both the goals were Cristiano Ronaldo penalties. This Euro just might have been the great man’s last.
The match turned out to be quite a cagey affair. Tensions were high during large parts of the second half. A plethora of reckless tackles flew in from both sides. A total of five players were booked during the match. Portugal seemed quite frustrated from the opening moments of the second period. Perhaps the Belgium goal right at the cusp of half-time had shaken them.
Thorgan Hazard scored the winner in the 42nd minute thanks to what will arguably be one of the goals of the tournament. Thomas Meunier had laid the ball off for the Borussia Dortmund player from the left. Hazard then took one touch just inside the penalty area and struck a sweet strike with the outside of his right boot. The ball swerved past Patricio, who was wrong-footed and had no chance of saving it. The Belgians ran off in celebration as the ball nestled in the bottom-right corner of the net. The strike was a perfect example of power and precision.
Portugal’s first-half performance was lackluster, to say the least. Everyone expected the defending champions to turn up in the second half. They did create a lot more chances and dominated possession but lacked that killer instinct in the final third. Diogo Jota was awful in front of goal yet again. There was no clear chance for Ronaldo, and even Bernardo Silva could create much with the ball. Bruno Fernandes was later brought on and he delivered a dangerous corner that Dias sent straight at Courtois. But that was Fernandes’ only meaningful contribution to the game. Renato Sanches was the only Portuguese player who seemed to be playing well, but even he was taken off unexpectedly.
Belgium are all set to face Italy in the quarter-finals in what promises to be a mouth-watering encounter. Both sides are yet to lose a single match in the competition. Both are extremely well-matched on paper.