There will be a new Euro champion, as Belgium clung to defeat Portugal 1-0 at the frantic end of the match in Seville.
The Belgians took the lead in the 42nd minute with a goal from Thorgan Hazard, who beat Rui Patricio with a powerful shot into the top net.
The Portuguese had so far dominated this first half and, moreover, the rest of the match, with 24 shots against only 6 for Belgium, who scored with his only shot on goal.
The Portuguese tried everything to beat Thibaut Courtois, without success, Rafael Guerrero hit the post with less than ten minutes to play.
The match could have cost the Red Devils dearly, with both Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard out injured. The Belgians will need them in the quarter-final against Italy.
The Belgians showed opportunism by scoring a goal on their only chance in the match.
“In a game like this you have to grab the odds with both hands. Only the match scorer, Thorgan Hazard, said, ‘The goalkeeper was expecting me to hit the other corner, so I went into the ball.'”
Thomas Vermaelen still admits that he and his teammates have done well under the circumstances.
“In the first half we put pressure on Portugal, but looking at the second half, we are lucky to win.”
And on the Portuguese side, we were dumbfounded that we let the match slip out of control.
“We created more chances than Belgium, we brought down midfielder Joao Balenha. In the first half, we controlled the game and I don’t remember another chance to score except for their goal.”
In the other meeting on the programme, the Czech Republic caused a big surprise by beating the Netherlands 2-0 in Budapest.
The Dutch suffered when they fell to ten players in the 55th minute.
Matthijs de Ligt was first penalized with a yellow card, and finally received a red flag after reviewing the video of putting his hand on the ball while trying to stop Czech striker Patrik Schick.
“After the red, we had a hard time putting pressure on them and they became even more difficult,” Jorginho Wijnaldum admitted.
Thomas Holz headed home in the 68th minute and then partnered with Patrick Schick who scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the 80th minute.
The Czechs will face another surprising winner, Denmark, in the quarter-finals.
A favourite, the Dutch have never been able to find a solution to the Czech riddle. “The whole match was tough for us,” Wijnaldum admitted. We couldn’t stand the pressure they put on us. We created some chances in the first half, but it’s not enough.”
Matthijs de Ligt, the author of the red card, believes everything is going well so far.
“I think we controlled the match. We had a few chances especially in the first half. I don’t feel like they created many chances, but the red card obviously changed the rules of the game.”
Dutch coach Frank de Boer believes with a bit of optimism that his team was playing a good game before falling into a digital deficit.
“They were tough opponents, but I think we were better before the red, we controlled the match.”
But Holland has only themselves to blame for having scoring chances, but they didn’t take advantage of them, especially on Doniel Mallin, ten minutes before the red.
His name was not included in the scoring list, but he played an excellent game for Belgium causing all kinds of problems in midfield to limit the Portuguese’s claims. He was the best player for his team in this game.
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