Roberto Martínez’s Belgium is already in the quarterfinals of the European Championship after landing on one of the tournament’s favorites: Portugal. Lhe selection of the red devils applied the same medicine that the Portuguese team usually uses and took advantage of his individual quality to impose himself on the irregular lawn of La Cartuja. The lone goal of Thorgan Hazard, Eden’s brother, served to put land in the middle and force a conservative Portugal to stretch in attack. Fernando Santos’s pupils stayed very close when Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix they jumped onto the pitch; they even crashed a shot into the stock of the post, the work of Raphaël Guerreiro, but Belgium resisted with a great courtois under sticks and already waiting for the next opponent in the quarterfinals.
The second part had nothing to do with the first. And it is that Belgium and Portugal signed the armistice in the initial 45 minutes. In a meeting that brought together offensive talents of the caliber of Cristiano Ronaldo, De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Diego Jota, Romelu Lukaku or Bernardo Silva, both teams were limited to not making mistakes that put them below the scoreboard. The slogan was clear: no matter who carries the weight of the game, the key is not to concede a goal before the opponent.
Roberto Martínez’s Belgian team got the ball played and its centrals (Vermaelen, Vertonghen and Alderweireld) progressed with it, but up to a certain point. Once Portugal waited in their own field, no one took enough risks to break the Portuguese defensive system. Neither in driving nor in the pass. The circulation went from side to side without deepening or damaging inside. The trick was for De Bruyne, either Hazard or Lukaku to have the light on the front. The Inter Milan striker stretched behind the Portuguese and dragged at least two defenders in each movement.
Belgium won with the least
Portugal, on the other hand, took less detours. Pepe defended the area like a cat belly upEven if he had to take down Lukaku and he was ten years younger. The age was an anecdote for a historical center. Renato Sanches galloped through the center of the field between drives and changes of rhythm and at the slightest occasion, put Diego Jota running and Cristiano Ronaldo. Thus came the first chance of the match when the Liverpool winger’s shot was bitten off Courtois.
A lack of Cristiano Ronaldo marked the equator of the first half without news from both. Then, you pass without a clear intention, little rhythm and less speed. Until the talent broke through with Thorgan Hazard’s whiplash whose effect misled Rui Patricio and Belgium took the lead with five minutes remaining. The meeting went off script, surely ahead of schedule by the two, and forced Fernando Santos to make decisions.
The second half began with a change in the ranks of the Red Devils. ‘Bob’ Martínez lost his best footballer, De Bruyne and reacted with the entry of Mertens. Another offensive stiletto. Fernando Santos, seeing that he was running out of time, added fuel to the fire. Bernardo and Moutinho left and he introduced Joao Felix and Bruno Fernandes. And Portugal began to show why it had raised so many expectations since its defensive list for this tournament was unveiled. Mobility between the midfielders, speed in three quarters of the field, Cristiano Ronaldo connecting with Joao Félix and Diego Jota so that he could forgive the tie again. Immediately afterwards, Joao Félix finished off a tame ball into the hands of the Belgian goalkeeper.
The Portuguese team had the initiative and Belgium resisted on the precipice. Lukaku showed his teeth after a great touch from Hazard for his brother and his pass to the front of the area, but his shot, bouncing and violent, went over the crossbar. Portugal pulled in anxiety. A lot of far center with no advantage, shots with opposition from his own home. The minutes passed and time was playing against a team that had already launched the first half. André Silva, another center forward, entered for Diego Jota. The game became rough with such a lack and Pepe was about to collapse, but he ended up without victims.
A few minutes from the end, Rúben Dias had the draw in his head, but Courtois did not bend and cleared her of fists. Then, center from the left, the Belgians’ header hit the foot of Guerreiro and his shot to the long post hit the strain of the post. Belgium, through Lukaku and Hazard, was looking for the sentence that did not come. Those of Fernando Santos had made enough merits to take something more to their mouth than a zero on the scoreboard, but they did not have enough success and Belgium is already in the quarterfinals.