5 talking points as Thorgan Hazard’s strike eliminates the holders – .

5 talking points as Thorgan Hazard’s strike eliminates the holders – .

Belgium took another step towards Euro glory after Thorgan Hazard’s goal beat Portugal in the round of 16.
The nation ranked No.1 in the world underlined its credentials by sending the defending champions to pack their bags in Seville.

Roberto Martinez’s side had come through a relatively easy group but showed they are more than capable of ramping up.

Hazard has been impressive on Belgium’s left flank throughout the tournament and came inside to shoot from 20 yards just before half-time.

Portugal’s Rui Patricio may have done better, but the gap on the shot ended up being too big.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his colleagues huffed and puffed in the second 45, but failed to break through a fierce defense with Raphael Guerreiro hitting the post late.

Belgium find themselves in the more difficult half of the draw and will certainly have to take the win with an upcoming round of 16 against Italy in Munich.

Here are five talking points from Sunday night’s clash.

Thorgan Hazard scored the decisive goal

Belgium can seize the opportunity

Since we saw the strength of their team at the 2014 World Cup, Belgium have been highlighted as one of the main contenders for the tournament.

They endured a learning curve in this tournament before a disappointing display in France two years later. At the World Cup in Russia, they beat Brazil en route to the bottom four, where they were eventually beaten by France.

If there is such diligence that must be undertaken before glory is achieved, then Belgium has certainly done theirs.

Many members of their current generation were in attendance in 2014, such as De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Thomas Vermaelen and Thibaut Courtois, and all learned what it takes to be successful in a football tournament.

Belgium’s best performance in a major tournament is second at Euro in 1980 – this group could finally be ready to do better.

Eden here?

Hazard produced a sensational strike to score the game’s opener. Not the Real Madrid man, the other.

Anyone who had watched football in the past decade would look at the scoresheet and think Eden is back to its best.

Afraid not. His younger brother Thorgan has been a class act throughout Euro 2020 and has shown strength.

Deployed in a left-winger role, the Borussia Dortmund star cut before hitting at home just before half-time.

He continued to grow in stature and influence over the course of the tournament and with Hazard established far from his best, the baton has been passed, at least for now.

Renato Sanches stood out for Portugal

Sanches loves euros

Sometimes you have to remember that Renato Sanches is only 23 years old. Already, he seems to have had a career full of moves, ups and downs.

It was at the Euro five years ago that the Portuguese star rose to prominence and was then transferred to Bayern Munich.

Based on his performances in France, he looked set to dominate, but it didn’t happen that way and his time in Germany was cut short.

An unspectacular loan to Swansea highlighted his downfall but he rebuilt his career at Nice.

It seems he loves the European Championships because he has been one of the most successful men in his country. Even on Sunday night, in a team full of stars, it was Sanches who injected the spark into an attack that lacked energy.

The hope now is that the player we’ve seen over the past fortnight is here to stay.

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Ronaldo Mixed Tournament

He could well end up as the tournament’s top scorer – although Lukaku and Patrick Schick might have something to say about it – and finally tie the all-time international goalscoring record.

The attackers are, of course, always judged on their return from goal.

But in all fairness, the Juventus man, who faces an uncertain future at club, was average at those Euros at best.

Some may accuse him of being a penalty dealer who was lucky enough to also be handed two tap-ins en route to his five-goal loot.

Otherwise will say that he is a man of great opportunity with an unwavering appetite for goals. Guess it depends on what you enjoy, but a man of his caliber should have taken a quality nation beyond the last 16.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored five times but could not lead his team to the later stages of the tournament

Portugal one-dimensional

If there hadn’t been a counterattack, Portugal would certainly be less on the side.

Lucky for them, although it does exist and when they do break it is simply devastating. Their first goal against Germany showed us that.

However, such a tactic is very easy to fight and Belgium were more than happy to sit down deep and allow their opponents to hold the ball at times.

Strange really, that a team with so much talent struggled for so long to break their opponents when they sat down.

In the second half, they struggled to find the equalizer but, with the exception of Guerreiro’s effort, Courtois was not really necessary to produce the sparkle.

As the Euro advanced and the quality of the opponents improved, there was always a danger that their main weapon of attack would be stifled, as was the case in Seville.


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