Sunday’s 2021 European Championship game between Belgium and Portugal wasn’t the shootout most expected. It only took one goal to decide the victor of the matchup, and Belgium advanced to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win. Thorgan Hazard made all the difference in this match, as other Belgians failed to create quality chances.
Thorgan, the younger brother of Eden Hazard, netted a shot from nearly 25 yards out after receiving a pass from full back Thomas Meunier to put Belgium up 1-0 in the 42nd minute. The 28-year-old winger missed the match of group stage play because of a knee injury but became match fit through training to give his team an edge just ahead of the break.
Kevin De Bruyne suffered an ankle injury after receiving a risky challenge toward the end of the first half and only played a few seconds in the final 45 minutes before asking to come off. Portugal’s adjustments that followed put Belgium on the back foot.
Portugal used all five of its subs to bring on attacking players like Joao Felix, Andre Silva, and Bruno Fernandes. The trio helped create a bevy of chances, but Courtois showed up big by making major saves. Portugal generated 23 shots and Courtois stopped for of the six that were on target. Belgium’s attack was stagnant without De Bruyne and didn't put a shot on target in the second half. Belgium generated just six shots total.
Belgium will take on another unbeaten squad in Italy next week on Friday, July 2nd. If De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, who also suffered a leg injury on Sunday, can’t play, Belgium could have a very tough time.