De Bruyne injured as Belgium kick title-holders Portugal out of Euro 2020

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Belgium knocked out title-holders Portugal and reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals after Thorgan Hazard’s superb strike sealed a 1-0 win on Sunday.

Roberto Martinez’s side will now face Italy, who have also won every game so far at the tournament, in Munich on Friday.

But star Kevin De Bruyne was substituted with an apparent ankle injury early in the second half of the last 16 clash and could be a doubt.

Eden Hazard also asked to come off late on.

Belgium, the number one-ranked team in the world, were arguably second-best before the goal late in the first half and thereafter.

“It was a nice goal and we beat the title-holders,” the goalscorer said.

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“The second half was very tough. We should have kept the ball better. (The injuries) are tricky situations for us. I hope they can come back quickly. Today was like a final…and (the match against) Italy is also (going to be) a complicated game.”

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo was left stranded on 109 international goals, sharing the men’s record with Iran’s Ali Daei.

But he is likely to be back for qualifiers and the Qatar World Cup in less than 18 months in spite of his 36 years of age.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos told a news conference: “Now, it’s about looking forward and trying to win the World Cup.

“There is no team that can say they were better than Portugal. We deserved to win this game but it didn’t happen.”

Belgium made five changes and started with their strongest-looking line-up of Euro 2020 so far, while Portugal again began without Bruno Fernandes.

Martinez was managing a game in his native Spain for the first time and was being cheered by his family in the stands.

He saw opponents Portugal have the first decent chance with Diogo Jota screwing a shot wide.

Eden Hazard fired well over before tournament top goalscorer Ronaldo tested Thibaut Courtois with a dipping free-kick.

Portugal were largely on top until Thorgan Hazard, Eden’s younger brother, picked up the ball 25 metres from goal.

He then sent a wicked swerving effort into the corner of the net three minutes before the break.

Thorgan has now scored in consecutive games for Belgium for the first time and has netted four times since his brother last notched an international goal.

Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio may feel he could have done better.

His opposite number Courtois will also claim half an assist after tricking Ronaldo with his feet in his own box and launching the attack which led to the goal.

The sight of De Bruyne limping off, having only just fully recovered from facial fractures suffered in Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League final loss to Chelsea, will worry Belgium fans.

The midfielder came out for the second period but quickly decided he could not continue.

He had undergone treatment after a tough challenge before the break.

Portugal threw on Fernandes and Joao Felix 10 minutes into the second half.

Jota, Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro, when he hit the post, all had good chances but it was to no avail amid a bad-tempered ending.

The game —— tournament favourites against defending champions —- was one of the most eagerly-anticipated of the tournament so far.

It did not quite live up to the hype, but Belgium did enough as they seek their first major title.

Martinez said: “We showed incredible concentration and defended really well. Everything was about those aspects of being tactically disciplined and very, very astute.”(dpa/NAN)

 

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