Belgium knock out Portugal; Czechs end Dutch dreams

Afp, Paris

29 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Belgium knock out Portugal; Czechs end Dutch dreams

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo (right) reacts as Belgium players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville on Sunday. — AFP photo

Thorgan Hazard scored the only goal of the game as Belgium knocked the holders Portugal out of Euro 2020 on Sunday after the Czech Republic ended the dreams of a 10-man Netherlands side.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal team-mates were hoping to defend the trophy they won in Paris five years ago but they could not recover after the lesser heralded of the Hazard brothers smashed home just before half-time in Seville and Belgium held out for a 1-0 victory.

The meeting between the reigning champions and the world's top-ranked team was hotly anticipated but it never lived up to expectations.

Belgium will not care as they advance to another exciting tie, a mouth-watering quarter-final against Italy in Munich on Friday.

"I just tried my luck," said Borussia Dortmund winger Hazard. "It wasn't easy but to go all the way in a tournament you have to suffer at times."

It remains to be seen if their captain, Kevin De Bruyne, will be fit to face Italy after he was forced off early in the second half feeling the effects of an earlier Joao Palhinha challenge that left him with an injured ankle.

Coach Roberto Martinez also saw skipper Eden Hazard come off late on with a hamstring problem.

Raphael Guerreiro came closest to equalising for Portugal but Ronaldo rarely looked like getting the goal that would have seen him break the all-time international scoring record.

At 36, this could well have been Ronaldo's last ever match at the European Championship but he will certainly hope to play at next year's World Cup in Qatar.

Earlier the Netherlands saw their run ended as goals from Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 victory in Budapest.

The tie in the Hungarian capital swung on two moments early in the second period that went against Frank de Boer's side.

Donyell Malen was denied by Tomas Vaclik after bursting through and finding himself with just the Czech goalkeeper to beat and then Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt was sent off after a VAR review for a deliberate handball.

Holes opened the scoring in the 68th minute and the 28-year-old Slavia Prague midfielder then made the clinching second goal with 10 minutes left, pouncing on a loose ball and breaking through to set up Schick.

It was Schick's fourth goal of the Euro so far and the Czech Republic, ranked 40th in the world, now go through to a quarter-final against Denmark in Baku next Saturday, July 3.