Defending champion Portugal out: BVB duo’s dream goal is Belgium’s trump card

Defending champions Portugal out
BVB duo’s dream goal is Belgium’s trump card

It is not the hoped-for classic that Belgium and Portugal deliver in the round of 16 of the European Football Championship. Cristiano Ronaldo remains pale, Kevin de Bruyne has to leave the field early, injured. The decisive difference is made by two Borussia Dortmund professionals after 90 minutes.

Belgium’s sky strikers have stopped Cristiano Ronaldo’s record hunt thanks to Dortmund’s Thorgan Hazard. The “Red Devils” defeated defending champions Portugal for a long time, tough and only at the end exciting game 1-0 (1-0) and, like in 2016, they made it to the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

Hazard (42nd) met the preparatory work of his BVB club colleague Thomas Meunier for the Belgians at temperatures of around 30 degrees in Seville. In the round of the last eight teams, the number one in the FIFA world rankings will face Italy on Friday in Munich. The overall disappointing Ronaldo, on the other hand, missed his 110th international goal and thus the only world record in men’s football.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos had spoken of a “first final” before kick-off. The 11,504 spectators in the Olympic Stadium, most of them from nearby Portugal, initially hoped in vain for a spectacle. Above all, there wasn’t much to stand by Ronaldo at the beginning, instead of CR7, former Bayern professional Renato Sanches pulled the strings in midfield.

Sanches also initiated the only chance of the first 20 minutes. The 23-year-old sent Diogo Jota on the trip with a through ball, but the Liverpool professional moved miserably from a good position (6th). The more active team was Belgium. Because the offensive around veteran Romelu Lukaku and the Hazard brothers Eden and Thorgan found no connection to the game, there was no real goal threat.

Rui Patricio doesn’t look good

Both teams could clearly see the importance of the game and the respect for the opponent, the structure of the game was characterized by risk minimization and the prevention of counterattacks. While Portugal radiated at least a little danger with a sharp free kick by Ronaldo (25th) from 19 meters, Belgium disappointed completely. Only in the 37th minute, Dortmund’s Meunier made the first shot on goal.

Meunier’s flick over the bar worked like a wake-up call: just five minutes later, his club colleague Hazard simply pulled away from about 20 meters, his flutter hit the far corner brilliantly. Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio didn’t look good on the younger Hazard brother’s second goal.

Shortly after the break, Kevin De Bruyne, who was injured shortly before the European Championship, had to leave the field. Without his trump card, Belgium lost some of the flow. Felix Brych also got more and more work. The referee from Munich ended his initially generous line at the right time in his third European Championship appearance in order to keep control of the now increasingly hectic game.

Portugal finally took more risks, which was good for the game. Ronaldo staged Diogo Jota (58th), but he moved in reserve. A little later, the substitute Joao Felix (61.) had the chance to equalize. In addition, Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro hit the post (83rd). Belgium looked battered after De Bruynes Aus, but recovered and played their part in the exciting final phase.