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Hazard the Younger slams goal to clinch Belgium’s place in quarter-finals
The Red Devils’ winning streak continues as the Belgian national team beat reigning champion Portugal in the Euros last night 1-0. The Devils will now move on to the quarter-finals of Europe’s football championship.
Cheering broke out across the country three minutes before halftime yesterday evening as Thorgan Hazard – the younger of the Hazard brothers on the national team – scored a goal against Portugal. Even celebrity hot-shot Cristiano Renaldo – who , it must be said, was brought to his knees before the match was over – could not stop the black, yellow and red.
“I knew we were going to have to match Portugal’s know-how, professionalism and winning mentality,” said coach Roberto Martinez after the match. “It’s a team that does what they need to do to win the game. And sometimes that can break the concentration that you need. I was so pleased; our performance was really good. We scored a really good goal.”
Belgium’s defence was also strong during the match in Seville, with centre-back Thomas Vermaelen leading the team in foiling 23 goal attempts by the other side. The effort was enough to see the Red Devils become one of the final eight, scheduled to take on Italy on Friday in Munich.
Belgian Cats’ guard Julie Allemand was named an All-Star Five following EuroBasket 2021, together with teammate Emma Meesseman ©Virginie Lefour/BELGA
Hopefully, the match will not have to be played without two of Belgium’s star players, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, both of whom were injured during the face-off with Portugal. The former sustained an ankle injury and could not move it by the end of the match, and the latter has a muscle seizure. It will be at least until Tuesday evening, Martinez said, that anything could be decided about the players.
Belgium has never won the European Championship, which takes place every four years. They came the closest in 1980, when they were edged out of the final by West Germany. They took bronze in 1972.
More good news in pro sports from the weekend: The women’s basketball team earned bronze at the European Championship in Valencia. “Winning a bronze is better than losing a final,” said centre Ann Wauters, who offered commentary from Belgium as she skipped the championships this year to fully concentrate on the Olympics next month.
Wauters’ comment followed a semi-final in which the Belgian Cats lost to Serbia in a fraction of a second as what could have been a winning shot was judged to be too late for the buzzer. The team went on to beat Belarus 77-69 to come in third. The Belgian Cats also earned bronze at the EuroBasket in 2017.
Brothers Thorgan (left) and Eden Hazard celebrates Thorgan’s goal against Portugal – the only goal of the entire match