SEVILLE, Spain (Dispatches) - Belgium knocked defending champions Portugal out of Euro 2020 with a 1-0 victory in the last 16 on Sunday to set up a mouth-watering quarterfinal tie against Italy.
A 43rd-minute strike from Thorgan Hazard secured the win for Roberto Martinez’s team, who survived plenty of pressure from the Portuguese in the second half.
But with the finishing touch missing, it was the end of the road for Cristiano Ronaldo and a Portugal team who had triumphed in Paris five years ago.
Ronaldo bows out with five goals from four games, and is currently the tournament’s top scorer. Yet it remains to be seen if the 36-year-old will return for a sixth Euros in Germany in 2024 or if the competition’s all-time top scorer will bow out of national team duty after the Qatar World Cup next year.
Belgium were among the pre-tournament favorites but this was a stodgy and uninspired display and they will need to raise their game significantly if they are to get past Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri who are unbeaten in 31 matches.