Thorgan Hazard’s first-half strike gave Belgium a 1-0 win over Portugal on Sunday night, as Roberto Martinez’s men secured passage through to the last eight of Euro 2020.
Belgium struggled to break down Portugal’s rigid defensive shape, but eventually managed to find the opener courtesy of a bit of magic from Thorgan Hazard. The Borussia Dortmund man collected Thomas Meunier pass, got the ball out of his feet, and fired a vicious, swerving strike into Rui Patricio’s bottom corner from range.
Clear-cut chances were hard to come by after the interval, with Belgium more concerned about seeing the result out than pushing on for more goals, although they began to appear late on.
Thibaut Courtois denied what looked to be a certain equaliser with ten minutes to go, palming away Ruben Dias’ thumping header from Bruno Fernandes’ corner, minutes before Raphael Guerreiro scared the Belgians with an effort that struck the upright.
The waves of Portuguese pressure in the latter stages were not enough to break through Martinez’s side, however, and Belgium saw out the 1-0 win, knocking holders Portugal out of the tournament and booking their place in the quarter-final.
Now, let’s see how the players rated…
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 7/10 – Solid whenever called upon, notably denying Dias and making an integral block from Andre Silva late on.
Toby Alderweireld (CB) – 6/10 – Contributed to build-up play as Belgium looked to remain patient in the first half. Was sometimes caught out by runners in the channels, although looked stronger when the onus was on his opposition to attack.
Thomas Vermaelen (CB) – 8/10 – Very calm and composed at the heart of the back line, reading play brilliantly and covering for his colleagues to make ten interventions. A stoic, leader’s performance.
Jan Vertonghen (CB) – 6/10 – Looked very assured whenever the ball would come his way, dominating aerial duels and always putting a foot in to nick the ball away.
Thomas Meunier (RWB) – 6/10 – Couldn’t really make an impact when he drove forward. His final pass was always a bit of a let down, although he did a good job in putting himself about in a defensive capacity.
Youri Tielemans (CM) – 7/10 – A tenacious performance in midfield, breaking up play to good effect with five ball recoveries and dropping deep in possession to look for defence-splitting passes.
Axel Witsel (CM) – 6/10 – Pressed tight and did well to stifle the likes of Joao Moutinho, while also recycling possession without a fuss.
Thorgan Hazard (LWB) – 8/10 – Looked a livewire from the get go and was always likely to give the Portuguese back line a headache. Unleashed a fierce strike to break the deadlock and never forgot about defensive duties, tracking back to register six ball recoveries.
Kevin De Bruyne (RW) – 6/10 – Floated around to find pockets of space and occasionally demonstrated his quality with little touches and raking passes. Unfortunately clearly went off injured at half-time and was withdrawn seconds into the second period.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – 6/10 – Had a few moments of lovely link-up play but was left frustrated for the most part, not really seeing much of the action. Was marshalled fairly well by his opposition and never got into the game properly.
Eden Hazard (LW) – 7/10 – Some wonderful touches here and there, getting out of tight spots like we saw him do week in week out at Chelsea. But couldn’t really produce the spark to break Portugal down.
Dries Mertens (RW) – 6/10
Yannick Carrasco (LW) – 6/10
Leander Dendoncker (DM) – N/A
Rui Patricio (GK) – Wasn’t really tested apart from the opener, about which he may feel a little disappointed.
Diogo Dalot (RB) – 6/10 – His best play came upfield where he pressed energetically and looked as though he could cause danger. When pinned back he seemed scared of his opposition, though.
Pepe (CB) – 6/10 – Composed on the ball and registered a couple of clearances but was generally carried by his centre-back partner.
Ruben Dias (CB) – 6/10 – A brick wall for the majority of play, remaining firm to his deadly opposition. His six interventions, however, were slightly overshadowed by his failure to get out to Hazard quick enough to block the shot.
Raphael Guerreiro (LB) – 6/10 – Did well defensively, always getting tight to Meunier quickly. Stifled Belgium’s right, but his usual attacking contribution wasn’t there – although was unlucky to hit the post with a late effort.
Joao Palhinha (DM) – 7/10 – Excellent in one-v-one situations, pressing hard, putting in biting challenges and tracking back brilliantly to register six tackles.
Joao Moutinho (CM) – 6/10 – Read the game well, making three ball recoveries and finding space when his side looked to build. But was always instantly pressurised and really struggled to bypass that.
Renato Sanches (CM) – 7/10 – Sharp movements allowed him to swivel away from Belgian players and break through the lines, surging upfield and finding a pass to worry his opposition on a few occasions. His side’s brightest spark throughout; some player when he gets going.
Bernardo Silva (RW) – 3/10 – Oh, was he playing? Completely absent whenever his side broke forward and his half-hearted pressing simply wasn’t good enough.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) – 6/10 – Left isolated up top and didn’t seem likely to be fed when attempting to run the channels. Forced to drop deeper where he began to create things for others, but his presence definitely lacked in front of goal.
Diogo Jota (LW) – 6/10 – Made several very good surges into the area from the left but was rarely given the service to make them count. Saw one decent opportunity sail just over the crossbar in the second half.
Bruno Fernandes (CM) – 6/10
Joao Felix (RW) – 6/10
Andre Silva (ST) – 5/10
Danilo (DM) – 6/10
Sergio Oliveira (CM) – 6/10