The dream of the Portuguese national team of obtaining a second major title has ended. The defending champion was defeated 0-1 on Sunday evening in the round of 16 of the Pan European Football Championship in Seville, Belgium. Thorgan Hazard scored the winning goal for the world number one shortly before the first half (42), who was lucky enough to take the lead at the end. Belgium will now face Italy in the quarter-finals on Friday (9pm) in Munich.
The Squadra Azzurra had defeated Austria 2-1 after extra time the day before. In the second round of the Round of 16 on Sunday, the Netherlands surprisingly failed against the Czech Republic.
The first half of the duel between two EM favorites was marked by great mutual respect. Both sides acted cautiously and without a quick move to goal, the top-tier offensive players barely entered their targets. Portugal only became dangerous twice in the first half hour. Diogo Jota missed the best chance in the sixth minute, with a free kick from the European record scorer Cristiano Ronaldo nullified goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (25).
With their first real chance, the Belgians took the lead. After one of some quick runs, Thorgan Hazard pulled back from the 20m and hit the far corner, goalkeeper Rui Patricio not being the best figure.
The second half started with a setback for the Belgians. Kevin De Bruyne, who regained fitness for the European Championship in time after a facial injury, had to leave the field injured. The playmaker’s mistake was made by Joao Balenha shortly before the break, but he ran again, but could not continue playing (48th place).
Portugal has now increased its pace and put Belgium under pressure. Jota (58) and Joao Felix (61) had good chances early against the routine defense. In the end, the Portuguese pushed to equalize, but Robin Diaz failed with a strong header for goalkeeper Courtois (82), and Rafael Guerrero hit the crossbar (83).
The Belgian first group around De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, who was eventually replaced, still has a chance of becoming the golden generation after all.