Belgium 1-0 Portugal

Despite putting up a wonderful fight, Portugal's European Championship defense faltered tonight at the Estadio La Cartuja in Sevilla. After going behind to a wonderful Thorgan Hazard strike at the end of the first half, Portugal threw everything at the Belgians, hit the woodwork, and missed several other gilt-edged opportunities.

But Belgium held out and will face Italy in the quarterfinals despite being largely outplayed and outshot 21 attempts to 6, especially as Portugal desperately sought an equalizer. After knocking out the reigning champions, Belgium become a tempting bet using Pinnacle VIP Code to go all the way and win Euro 2020.

In keeping with tournament tradition, Fernando Santos made an interesting and unexpected switch at right back with Diogo Dalot replacing Nelson Semedo. João Pahlinha too was a breath of fresh air into the squad after his wonderful second half cameo against France. Belgium, meanwhile, returned several key players to the starting XI including Eden Hazard and Youri Tielemans in their 3-4-2-1 formation.

Both teams felt each other out in the opening five minutes before Portugal got things going when Renato Sanches got the wrong side of his marker with a brilliant turn near the halfway line. His run opened up space for Jota to get forward to his left and Sanches found him well, but the Liverpool striker skewed his effort wide right.


Match Reaction: “There are players crying in the changing room.”


Lukaku teed up Eden Hazard on the edge of the area minutes later, but the Real Madrid playmaker mis-hit the shot. But neither team gave an inch and each side's tactical organization was superb through the opening twenty-five minutes. 

Then Meunier handled the ball just outside the penalty area on the right. Ronaldo stepped up to the free kick and fired in Portugal's first shot on goal which was well-saved by Courtois. Jota headed the rebound well over the bar. Portugal were growing slowly into the match and Palhinha was next to try his luck from range. 

Five minutes before the break, Thomas Meunier dribbled inside from the right and sent a Quaresma-esque trivela over the bar from 20 yards, but Belgium were strangely subdued as an attacking force until Thorgan Hazard stepped up against the run of play. 

The Portuguese defense plucked the ball off Lukaku well, but the clearance was poor and fell to Hazard 25 yards from goal. Eden's younger brother let fly with a fierce effort which swerved into the right side netting, a goal representative of the Belgian's individual quality. 

Belgium were dealt something of a blow just minutes into the second half when De Bruyne pulled up injured, a consequence of a first half encounter with João Pahlinha. Fernando Santos first throw of the dice was a double change with João Félix and Bruno Fernandes coming on for Bernardo and Moutinho, respectively.

Portugal pressed numbers forward in search of an equalizer, and Diogo Jota should have been the man to provide it after a scything run from Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal's captain squeezed between two defenders on the right to feed Jota in the center, but again the Liverpool man fluffed his lines. Félix sent a header on goal after a decent cross from Renato Sanches on the left drawing a good save out of Courtois. 

But Portugal struggled to create chances despite mounting pressure, and André Silva was thrown into the fray for Diogo Jota with just over twenty minutes to play. Danilo and Sérgio followed, but still Portugal's possession failed to create chances as the match became more hot-tempered after several rough fouls. 

Portugal won a corner in the 81st minute and Rúben Dias sent a wonderful header toward goal but it was straight at Courtois, who had only enough time to parry it skyward. Guerreiro hit the right post just after, but still Belgium hung on. 


Belgium 1-0 Portugal - Player Ratings


Lukaku skied over a free kick when he was fouled following a counterattack, but Portugal resumed control and Courtois again denied Portugal after Ronaldo headed the ball over the defense to André Silva whose sliding challenge was met by the Real Madrid keeper. 

But despite wave after wave of attack and wonderful defensive interceptions for each of Belgium's counters, Portugal simply could not find the way through. Despite a well-organized performance which some might argue was their best this tournament, Belgium's singular moment of irrepressible quality shone brightest and won the match. Renato Sanches, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Portugal's defense all put in competent displays which on another night may have been more handsomely rewarded. But Belgium's tactical preparation was sufficient, and despite significant pressure as the second half wore on, their lines of defenders forced the Seleção into marginal chances while riding their luck as Guerreiro saw his effort come back off the woodwork. 

The disappointment and inquest may yet result in Portugal's long-time manager, Fernando Santos, making way for a new coach to lead Portugal's emerging generation onward in their search for another championship. Cristiano Ronaldo put in another fine performance in the losing effort and finishes his tournament with five goals. But it was not enough in the end as yet again club stars such as Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and others were unable to make the critical difference. 

Portugal return to World Cup qualifying in September against the Republic of Ireland.

by Nathan Motz

 

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício - Raphaël Guerreiro, Rúben Dias, Pepe, Diogo Dalot - João Pahlinha (Danilo, 78'), João Moutinho (Bruno Fernandes, 56', Renato Sanches (Sérgio Oliveira, 79') - Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota (André Silva, 70') , Bernardo Silva (João Félix, 56')

Belgium XI: Courtois - Vermaelen, Alderweireld, Vertonghen - Tielemans, Meunier, Witsel, Thorgan Hazard - De Bruyne, Lukaku, Eden Hazard

 

Goals:

[1-0] - Thorgan Hazard, 42'

 

Comments (37)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I’ve seen it on twitter and it’s so true: Portugal will not win another trophy by playing ‘beautiful football’ with another coach.

‘Portugal fans will rue the day when Santos leaves. The only guy who brought us silverware gets harped on always’

...

I’ve seen it on twitter and it’s so true: Portugal will not win another trophy by playing ‘beautiful football’ with another coach.

‘Portugal fans will rue the day when Santos leaves. The only guy who brought us silverware gets harped on always’

I’ve seen year after year of great Portuguese football with little to no results. As soon as a defensive-first tactical coach comes into play, everyone complains.

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John, yes you right F Santos has given us something special. Others have tried with better teams and failed. I'm in the mind of a change but wouldn't be hugely disappointed if he stayed.

Maybe a change isn't the answer but really believe we need...

John, yes you right F Santos has given us something special. Others have tried with better teams and failed. I'm in the mind of a change but wouldn't be hugely disappointed if he stayed.

Maybe a change isn't the answer but really believe we need a coach who can get the best out of these stars, their quality and egos. Don't think Santos can be that man

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That would be the case if what you are saying we're true, but it isn't.

We played 4 games in this tourney, and allowed 7 goals. Where is the defence you speak of? We kept 1 clean sheet.

The problem with Santos is there's never a consistent...

That would be the case if what you are saying we're true, but it isn't.

We played 4 games in this tourney, and allowed 7 goals. Where is the defence you speak of? We kept 1 clean sheet.

The problem with Santos is there's never a consistent game plan going forward, that's why we concede goals, because it's either one or the other.

I don't think Santos is a bad manager but I think we have to admit now that luck was a big part of our 2016 win. And luck eventually runs out.

With the work Santos has done with the defence, we could benefit from a better tactician to provide proper offensive ideas.

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This was lost in qualifying. Elite teams win their group easily and dont finish 2nd to the likes of Ukraine. Group winners go in pot A and can not be drawn together so thats how you avoid the “group of death.” Then getting to the round of 16...

This was lost in qualifying. Elite teams win their group easily and dont finish 2nd to the likes of Ukraine. Group winners go in pot A and can not be drawn together so thats how you avoid the “group of death.” Then getting to the round of 16 is much easier and that means more rest and an easier opponent. Portugal works much too hard in qualifying and that includes Qatar. Look at all the elite teams records in qualifying and no one else who is elite would finish 2nd to Ukraine. It was too high a mountain to climb and Portugal needs to win their qualifying group to have any chance at major tournaments.

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Very good observation Nick. At times we are just happy to qualify but that has implications as you properly stated. Even for the recent WC qualifiers, we were ahead 2 to 0 against Serbia and allowed them to tie us, 2 to 2. Crappy little...

Very good observation Nick. At times we are just happy to qualify but that has implications as you properly stated. Even for the recent WC qualifiers, we were ahead 2 to 0 against Serbia and allowed them to tie us, 2 to 2. Crappy little Servia. Come on guys, step it up and win this WC qualifying group.

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Coach needs to go. Too conservative. Nothing else to say. Let him go coach in Greece or Italy.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

If there ever was a game where it made sense to substitute Bernardo with Gonçalo Guedes, then this was it. The Belgian left defence was very obviously their weak spot. To bring Felix was right, he brought lots of creativity. I hope, this is a...

If there ever was a game where it made sense to substitute Bernardo with Gonçalo Guedes, then this was it. The Belgian left defence was very obviously their weak spot. To bring Felix was right, he brought lots of creativity. I hope, this is a turning point. Bruno and Bernardo are the losers of this tournament, This must have cosequences.

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Bruno and Bernardo can’t seem to gel and have chemistry with anyone on this team. It’s so frustrating

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So disappointed...the better team lost! That s 2 rd of 16 exits in a row to teams we should beat. Santos is not the guy going forward. Questions keep being asked of why bernardo, bruno...they are in a system and tactics that dont play to their...

So disappointed...the better team lost! That s 2 rd of 16 exits in a row to teams we should beat. Santos is not the guy going forward. Questions keep being asked of why bernardo, bruno...they are in a system and tactics that dont play to their strengths. Santos has us set up not to lose vs set up pushing to win.

As far as todays match....danilo should have come at half time since palhinha was on a yellow. Why bring sergio oliveira on when you danilo and you could have brought on pote or nuno mendes pushing raphael inside....like when he hit the post. Also ronaldo was good but drifted outside of box far too often leaving no attackers in box...again...you watch these other teams and when ball goes out wide they 2 attackers, and runners from midfield....thought i was watching 20 years ago portugal.

Patterns of play not dynamic enough, too conservative. I just wrote in another post how moving forward, we need a coach that can utilize the talent....Santos doesnt have enough cards to play.

He won euro 2016 and nations league. Amazing. He also got knocked out at rd of 16 twice and made hard work of qualifying. We have different players and a different team now and more players of quality coming through that require more progression. Its time to transition....no one can say this was a successful tournament going out to belgium in rd of 16....im sorry belgium are not that good...as today showed...a patricio mistake amd thats it....some lukaku runs amounting to nothing.

Im still shocked how the top scorer in liga nos cant get a minute.
Fpf best be thinking about qatar and the raft of players we have....there are some talented coaches out there and qatar is only 1 year away.

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This could be a blessing in disguise if we get a great coach like NES. I'm forever grateful to Santos for what he did but he just doesn't mesh with these young attack minded footballers. We have a World Cup next year , his nervous energy is also...

This could be a blessing in disguise if we get a great coach like NES. I'm forever grateful to Santos for what he did but he just doesn't mesh with these young attack minded footballers. We have a World Cup next year , his nervous energy is also exhausting for me. When you're not barking at the players it would be ideal to to some confidence and/or positivity. That's where NES would be such a breath of fresh air.

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Santos has got to go. We haven’t beaten one elite side in a major tournament since the euro 2016 final.

Nations league doesn’t count.

Santos never knew what his best stating eleven is or his tactics. Belgium had superior tactics and mentality...

Santos has got to go. We haven’t beaten one elite side in a major tournament since the euro 2016 final.

Nations league doesn’t count.

Santos never knew what his best stating eleven is or his tactics. Belgium had superior tactics and mentality to Portugal.

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Lmao, Portugal was a laughing stock that played great but never won anything.

Why are Portuguese fans so fickle? Makes me feel ashamed at times. We won the Nations League, AND the Euro! Something that will probably never happen again.

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Proud of the display in this game despite the bad result.

Positives:
Palhinha was a beast, even with the fouls. He needs to start DM from now on.
Renato is consistent and also needs to be a starter from now on
Dalot was fantastic and can grow...

Proud of the display in this game despite the bad result.

Positives:
Palhinha was a beast, even with the fouls. He needs to start DM from now on.
Renato is consistent and also needs to be a starter from now on
Dalot was fantastic and can grow from this

Negatives:
Our attacking players barring Ronaldo are all misfiring or misused.
Bruno F sucks, but I blame that on positioning.
Jota as well.
Fernando Santos has been amazing but the results and performances are always erratic. We never seem to have an identity or proper ideas how to score when we are behind, other than to cross into the box endlessly.
I think Santos has done his time and is a legend. But we need to move forward and hot another gear, where we are stagnant under him.

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We played good, not great but enough to merit a win. Unfortunately feel like there is still something missing in this quality team of ours but can't seem to work out what it is. Also thought there was a lack of urgency in Portugal's play until...

We played good, not great but enough to merit a win. Unfortunately feel like there is still something missing in this quality team of ours but can't seem to work out what it is. Also thought there was a lack of urgency in Portugal's play until the last 15 min. Maybe the weather?

Fernando Santos, thank you for the joy you have given our nation. Think it is time for a change you prove to manage a team but are you able to manage a team with Portugal's current quality? That's a no.

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We played the same way today than we did against Hungary and got lucky to score in the 84th minute. Eventually your luck will run out when you aren't clinical in front of the net.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Belgium were really on the ropes those last 20 minutes, but we just couldn't finish. Had Portugal scored, there was only going to be one winner.

Santos needs to go as he has failed to make the most of such a talented group of players though...

Belgium were really on the ropes those last 20 minutes, but we just couldn't finish. Had Portugal scored, there was only going to be one winner.

Santos needs to go as he has failed to make the most of such a talented group of players though this match wasn't his faul. He largely succeeded in nullifying the Belgian attack. Apart from the individual moment of brilliance from outside of the box, how many chances did the Belgians create?

Jota wasted an excellent chance early in the match and other in the second half. Ruben Dias headed straight at Courtois at point blank, and Guerreiro his the post.

We didn't rip the Belgian defense apart, but we created more than enough to bring this game to extra time. They scored from the only decent look they had; we were wasteful.

Renato yet again was superb. He needs to be a starter from here on out regardless of who is at the helm. The whole back line - especially Pepe - were excellent.

Bernardo, Jota, Fernandes, and Felix just couldn't find that cutting edge.

Ronaldo didn't have a clear cut chance but he did what he could to free up space and on occasion set up chances for the likes of Jota and Andre Silva.

All in all, we made it out of the group of death without a truly convincing performance. The 2-2 draw against France - a match in which we still struggled to create much of anything from open play - was perhaps the most impressive.

We were the better side against belgium, but we just lacked a finishing touch.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to Santos at this point. He will forever be remembered for leading us to the Euro 2016 title, but since then Portugal has looked solid yet unspectacular. We can compete, we can fight, but offensively we just can't seem to click as an organized cohesive unit.

I think a fresh face with a proactive footballing philosophy is needed to shake things up. We need to move beyond stability . There is far too much attacking quality in this talent pool to sit back and play every game for a 0-0 draw.

You don't have to sacrifice defensive solidity for assertive, attack-minded football. Santos can coach one, but he cannot do both. It is time for a change.

I for one think we should look into at the very least experimenting with a back 3. We have a wealth of wingbacks and very few truly world class out and out wingers

A 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 may not be a traditionally Portuguese formation but it is not one that our players are unfamiliar with at club level.

We need new ideas and a new direction. It is now up to the FPF to make the right move.

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“It was a spur of the moment thing. Ronaldo laughed, it was a joke. It showed the warmth and spirit of friendship we have in the squad.”

João Palhinha
(Portugal midfielder on his "Ronaldo" celebration after scoring for Portugal against Luxembourg) 

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