3 things we learned from Belgium v. Portugal
Belgium joined Italy, Denmark and the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals of EURO 2020 with a 1-0 victory over Portugal in Seville, Spain, on Sunday.
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Thorgan Hazard scored the game’s only goal, in sensation style, just before halftime and the world’s no. 1-ranked side held on from there to knock off the reigning, defending champions of Europe. There will be a new continental king crowned in
Up next for Belgium is another titanic clash, a quarterfinal date with the Italians, in Munich, Germany, on Friday (3 pm ET).
Three things we learned: Belgium - Portugal
1. De Bruyne injury a major worry: Here’s a statement that doesn’t require a PhD to be said with absolute confidence: Any team that has Kevin De Bruyne in it is better than when they don’t have him. PST will be updating the latest bits of news regarding De Bruyne’s ankle injury, here.
2. Belgium prove they can win ugly, too: It’s all too tempting to expect superstar players, especially in the attacking half, to show up to a major tournament and simply dominate from the get-go while playing thrilling attacking soccer with reckless abandon. Sadly, that is rarely the case, especially once into the knockout rounds. The unknown with Belgium is precisely that: When it gets down to the business end of a knockout competition, can they take the gloves off, go 12 rounds and sneak a decision on the judges’ scorecards? Few national sides in the world will make you battle and grind the way Portugal do, and did on Sunday, yet Belgium passed the test. A major hurdle cleared, with another one quickly approaching on the horizon.
3. A worthy winning goal: Sure, much of the game lacked the kind of free-flowing, complex combinations of passes and movement that you might have hoped to see given the superstar names on either side. But, did you see: 1) the final 20 minutes of wide-open, end-to-end, lung-busting counter-attacking soccer, and 2) that goal from Thorgan Hazard? Sheesh.
Man of the match: Thorgan Hazard - There was but a single moment of pure magic in this cagey Belgium - Portugal showdown, and the Borussia Dortmund was solely responsible.
Thibaut Courtois was called into action midway through the first half, when Cristiano Ronaldo rifled a free kick on target from 25 yards out. The ball dipped and swerved as it typically does off Ronaldo’s foot, but Courtois read it well and kept the whole of his body behind the goal as it arrived upon him.
Having been the better side through 40 minutes, Portugal would have been somewhat disappointed to go into halftime at 0-0. After Thorgan Hazard struck from 25 yards out in the 42nd minute (WATCH HERE - VIDEO), Portugal would have done anything to be level with Belgium at halftime.
Barely two minutes into the second half, De Bruyne rolled his ankle and was forced to leave the game. The play-making superstar’s injury status is not yet known, but De Bruyne immediately signaled to the bench that he needed to come off.
Courtois was again forced to make a key save on a shot hit right at him in the 82nd minute. Ruben Dias rose high inside the penalty area to redirect a corner kick on frame, but he only managed to head it straight at the Belgian ‘keeper for a comfortable punch.