Thorgan’s strike creates ‘Hazard’ for Portugal as Belgium march on
For many last night’s fixture between Belgium and Portugal, the two powerhouses of World Football let alone Europe was the match to look out for in the pre-quarters.
Some would debate this, with the Germany-England showdown yet to come albeit when the number one team in the world battles another team in the top 5, eyeballs in abundance definitely merits the occasion.
And eyeballs are what we got as The Red Devils Fans and The Maroon Brigade stormed the Estadio La Cartuja in Sevilla, Spain amid millions more glued to their television sets as we witnessed Belgium get the better of Portugal albeit only by a solitary goal.
The solitary goal which put Portugal in complete ‘hazard’ as their Euro campaign came to an unexpected end courtesy the younger Hazard, Thorgan.
The 1-0 win also gave Belgium their first hurrah over Portugal since September 1989 when they beat the Southern European Nation 3-0. More than three decades of misery finally ending for The Red Devils amid five matches contested with three losses and two draws.
So, as the tournament for the megastar of Portugal and World Football in CR7, came to a rather disconsolate conclusion last night, lets dissect this small but decisive win for Belgium:
Thorgan Hazard the difference maker in the first 45
Portugal started this contest with much intent as only in the 6th minute, their Liverpool forward Diogo Jotta had a chance albeit dragging it wide as he was fed with a sumptuous offload from Sanches.
About 20 minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo created their second opportunity through a free kicking drilling the ball into the bottom left corner as keeper Courtois made a crucial intervention to keep the megastar at bay.
Belgium slowly started gaining confidence as Munier had a strike albeit off-target in the 37th minute only for Thorgan Hazard minutes later to capitalize on this confidence with a devastating right foot strike giving keeper Rui Patricio absolutely no chance as the ball swirled in the bottom right corner of the net.
As the Red Devils went 1-0 up, at that point I believed Portugal with their might would definitely mount a comeback and this surely wasn’t the only goal we would see in the full 90.
Well, I was so wrong!
Portugal desperately try for the equaliser albeit no luck
The European Champions began the second half creating opportunities galore as Jotta again fired a shot off-target.
In the 61st minute, Portugal would find their range with a João Félix header from a Sanches corner which was comfortably grasped by Courtois.
As time went on, so did the desperation for the Champions of Europe. An equaliser surely had to come from somewhere.
Well, an opportunity presented itself in the 82nd minute as Rúben Dias swung in a header from a Fernandes cross which was again averted by Courtois as he hit the ball away.
Portugal were denied yet again as The Belgian keeper was doing all he could to keep their lead intact.
A minute later Portugal mounted yet another attack as Guerreiro hit the post. It seemed, luck had befriended Belgium!
Minutes later Courtois again showed his class as he smothered the ball just outside his goal to deny the looming André Silva.
As the referee called time, Belgium amid some luck and much of Courtois’ brilliance had done fantastically well to keep Portugal at bay.
In truth seeing Ronaldo after the match with disappointment all over his face made me shed a tear as the fan in me was rather more animated with one of his favourite footballers coming up second best.
The Azzurri challenge will be as tough as they come
Up next Belgium would be pitted against a confident and rather devastating Italian side who are yet to lose a single contest in this tournament.
They have scored goals aplenty and their attacking threat in Immobile, Insigne and others is surely second to none. In truth haven’t seen an Azzurri side with so much flair in a long time.
This contest will again be one for the ages much like Belgium’s last excursion against Portugal albeit The Red Devils would have to be more decisive and lethal with their performance to get the better of the Azzurris’ enroute to sealing a semi-final berth.
After all, only luck can’t win you all battles, dear numero uno team!