Euro 2020 English

Ronaldo’s dream shattered as Hazard screamer edges Belgium out of Euros

Thorgan Hazard netted with a belligerent strike as Belgium ended Portugal’s reign and stymied the European champions with a well-deserved 1-0 victory in Seville.

The younger Hazard brother was brilliant in settling a slow-burning Euro 2020 last-16 clash as he executed a swerving long-range death touch late in the first half that brought tears to many a Portugal player in the dressing room after the match.

Belgium had lost Kevin De Bruyne to injury at the beginning of the second half and faced concerted pressure as the holders, led by the tireless Cristiano Ronaldo, rallied after the break but held on to win 1-0.

The heavily-billed encounter largely failed to live up to its pre-match hype but Portugal rallied to produce a magnificent finish in which Raphael Guerreiro’s slammer hitting the post was their best chance. Belgium however clung on tenaciously to survive the late onslaught and book a quarter-final against Italy.

The first half was cagey with hardly any opportunities and minimal goal threats until the younger Hazard sibling suddenly lit up the contest with his moment of brilliance.

Portugal talisman Ronaldo, eager to surpass Ali Daei as the most prolific goalscorer in international football history, lined up a free-kick in the 24th minute but was denied by Thibaut Courtois.

The game appeared to be meandering towards the interval when Thorgan Hazard struck out of the blue to put Belgium ahead.

Romelu Lukaku held the ball up in the box before it was fed to the younger of the two Hazard brothers 20 yards out and the Borussia Dortmund player made no mistakeas he connected with a fierce drive which swerved and deceived Rui Patricio.

With that the complexion of the game changed and Belgium almost rose to the occasion again moments later and forced Ruben Dias to slice an awkward clearance towards his own goal but Patricio this time managed to save comfortably.

Belgium were forced into retreat early in the second half as key player De Bruyne was forced off injured and confined to the role of cheerleader for the duration of the match.

The Manchester City playmaker was still feeling the effects of an earlier challenge from Paulinha and looked dejected as he admitted defeat and was replaced by Dries Mertens.

The game became frazzled as time ran down. There were clear signs of Portuguese frustration as Pepe was booked for catching Eden Hazard high with his arm. The referee had been trying to stop play at the time after Lukaku had gone down with a head injury.

Portugal pushed themselves for one last volley but Courtois saved from a Dias header and Guerreiro thumped a volley against the base of the post. Felix put their final chance wide.