Euro 2020: Belgium defy odds to dump Portugal out of the tourney
|Belgium duo of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne will both face late fitness tests ahead of their quarter-final clash against Italy after limping off against Portugal in their 1-0 on Sunday. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)
Everything that could possibly go wrong went sideways for Belgium but they still dug deep, found chink in the Portuguese armour and made sure they banished all nightmares of recent meetings against Portugal to record their first win over them in decades.
It was always going to be a difficult affair, it was a game of huge significance as mentioned in our earlier report, the superstars on parade had so much to prove but in the end, it was eventually down to grit, guile and stone-wall determination.
Roberto Martinez is one hell of a football brain, his approach was positive despite the challenges that sprung up.
Portugal restricted the world number one team to just one shot on target but that just proved enough on the night.
From the team selection, you could tell that Portugal already learned from past mistakes.
Renato Sanches got the nod over Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes and he didn’t disappoint, covering grounds and proving a handful for the Belgium midfield.
The first half was keenly contested, end to end stuff but you can accuse Portugal of being conservative, they wanted to defend their way to the top, with the amount of quality in their team you’ll expect them to dictate play but the counter-attacking plan, Belgium came prepared.
A sensational screamer from Thorgan Hazard flew past Rui Patricio in the Portuguese goal, it was too late in the half but straight up it meant Portugal had to come out, so they did in the second half and even got a lifeline when Kevin De Bruyne limped off injured.
One would easily reference the magnificent trio of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku for any Belgium win but not this time, their win over Portugal was strictly down to the attentiveness of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Tomas Vermaelen, defensive excellence to say the least.
Belgium held on for a famous win and will now go on to face Italy who scrapped past Austria on Saturday.
Roberto Martinez will sweat on the fitness of De Bruyne and Eden Hazard who also limped off injured and was replaced late on.
Belgium are used to harder paths at major tourneys, this is their chance for glory, will they take it?