Belgium ended Portugal's European Championship defence with a 1-0 win in Seville, despite losing Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard to injuries in the last-16 clash.

With both sides facing a daunting route to Euro 2020 glory, it was Belgium who emerged to reach a quarter-final tie against in-form Italy thanks to Thorgan Hazard's long-range strike.

It was a goal that deserved to settle a game of few chances, although De Bruyne's substitution early in the second half will concern Roberto Martinez, as will Eden Hazard’s departure late in the match.

Portugal could not capitalise and paid the price for a third-placed Group F finish that condemned them to this side of the draw.

At odds with a tense finale, opportunities were few and far between prior to Belgium's spectacular 42nd-minute opener.

Portugal's Diogo Jota dragged wide and Thibaut Courtois parried a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick – his first sight at a record-breaking 110th international goal – before Thorgan Hazard blasted beyond Rui Patricio from 25 yards, the ball fading away from a flailing goalkeeper.
 
Joao Palhinha's challenge on De Bruyne in the 45th minute saw the Belgium midfielder substituted shortly after the restart, but Portugal did not respond until the introduction of Bruno Fernandes and tournament debutant Joao Felix.

Ronaldo teed up Jota to flash a strike over and Joao Felix got up to meet Renato Sanches' cross, only to head into Courtois' arms.

An ill-tempered affair threatened to tick by without Portugal seriously threatening an equaliser, but Ruben Dias headed straight at Courtois and Raphael Guerreiro struck the post, agonisingly close to forcing extra time.

 

What does it mean? Belgium win but lose star power

Belgium showed little besides the moment of magic from Hazard, an unlikely hero alongside De Bruyne, brother Eden and Romelu Lukaku. It proved enough on this occasion.

But when facing Italy next, Martinez will hope to have De Bruyne and Eden Hazard available to make their own special contribution to the knockout rounds.

De Bruyne has created a tournament-high 10 chances in just 134 minutes, while Eden Hazard contested 19 duels and won four fouls in this match, providing a vital outlet for his side.

Hero Hazard helps out

Thorgan Hazard's hit was one to remember, but he also played a key role in protecting Belgium's narrow lead.

The wing-back made five tackles, three clearances and also an interception when playing behind Eden.

No new Ronaldo record

It is surely a case of when not if Ronaldo reaches that magical number of 110, pulling clear of Iran great Ali Daei, but this was not his night.

Although five goals may still be enough to earn the Golden Boot, the forward scarcely looked like adding to that tally. He had four attempts but his best was a long-range free-kick.

What's next?

Belgium head to Munich on Friday to face Italy, with Ronaldo and Portugal watching on from home.

Kevin De Bruyne exited Belgium's Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Portugal due to injury on Sunday.

The Manchester City midfielder's involvement in the Euros was delayed due to facial fractures sustained in the Champions League final.

De Bruyne had subsequently starred as Belgium eased through the group stage, however, assisting one and scoring another in a comeback win over Denmark, before laying on a further assist against Finland.

But he lasted just 48 minutes of the knockout game against Portugal in Seville.

Joao Palhinha had been booked just before half-time for a challenge on De Bruyne from behind, and the felled star soon found he could not continue in the second period.

Red Devils coach Roberto Martinez took no risk, quickly calling Dries Mertens on in De Bruyne's place.

Belgium would have to face in-form Italy if they advance, while world champions France are also in the same half of the draw – two opponents against whom they would not like to be without De Bruyne.

Belgium face holders Portugal in a mouthwatering Euro 2020 last-16 tie on Sunday and their star attacking midfielder is in ominous form.

Kevin De Bruyne began the Red Devils' group campaign on the sidelines as he recovered from facial injuries sustained during Manchester City's Champions League final defeat to Chelsea.

“I don't feel anything on the left side, like after a visit to the dentist," he explained in a typically abrupt fashion.

But since being introduced as a half-time substitute with Belgium 1-0 down to Denmark in Copenhagen, the 29-year-old has unquestionably made his presence felt.

A brilliant assist and thumping winning goal saw the playmaker inspire a 2-1 win almost singlehandedly.

Belgium made it three wins from three thanks to a routine 2-0 triumph over Finland in their final Group B match, with De Bruyne laying on Romelu Lukaku's third goal of the tournament.

Despite only playing 134 minutes at Euro 2020, he has created five chances with an expected assists (xA) value of 1.18.

 

Bruno benched as holders struggle to find their feet

If this is a case of De Bruyne emphatically bringing his Premier League form onto the international stage, the same cannot yet be said of Bruno Fernandes.

Since his Manchester United debut on February 1 last year, Fernandes' 19 assists are the most supplied by any player in England's top fight. De Bruyne, with 17 assists having played 2,904 minutes to the Portugal international's 4,297, is the only other player to have recorded more than 15 over the same period.

The Manchester maestros also close out the top two in terms of chances created (De Bruyne 131, Fernandes 125), big chances created (De Bruyne 31, Fernandes 23) and chances created from open play (99 apiece) in this time.

 

Fernandes was in the starting line-up for Portugal's opener when they left it late to beat Hungary 3-0 in Group F, before being unable to avert a chastening 4-2 loss to Germany in Munich.

The former Sporting CP favourite was one of the victims as Fernando Santos shuffled his pack in response, only coming on as a late substitute in the 2-2 draw against France – his most notable contribution coming when he escaped punishment for an untidy challenge on Kingsley Coman in his own penalty area.

 

KDB running free

De Bruyne and Fernandes' contrasting contributions at Euro 2020 so far can by partly explained by the amount of freedom they are granted by their respective international bosses to recreate their club heroics.

"Kevin will have an influential role, the playmaker, linking possession," Martinez said a couple of days out from the showdown in Seville, with De Bruyne once again poised to leave a stamp on the game irrespective of starting position.

He replaced Dries Mertens against Denmark, nominally roving in the front three, before reverting to a central midfield position alongside Axel Witsel for a man-of-the-match showing versus Finland.

For City, the majority of De Bruyne's Premier League touches last season came in the middle third of the opposition half of the field, with 15.27 per cent in the middle of the left flank.

 

Within the far smaller sample size of his Belgium minutes at Euro 2020, the story is similar enough. Although he does not hit double-digit percentages across the middle attacking third as he does for City, 15.38 per cent of De Bruyne's Red Devils touches are in that favoured position - coming in from the left and able to see the full picture unfolding.

Fernandes' made 14.08 per cent of his United touches in the same area in 2020-21, with a comparable spread across the attacking midfield zones to De Bruyne.

By contrast, for Portugal at Euro 2020, there has been a huge concentration of Fernandes' touches on the right flank - 22.68 per on the right of the middle third of the opposition half, compared to just 4.12 per cent where he does the biggest chunk of his United work.

This suggests far less license to express himself than De Bruyne enjoys under Martinez and the on-field relationship each man has with their team's superstar goalscorer is somewhat wrapped up in all this.

 

KDB and Rom in sync, Bruno struggling to feed Ronaldo

The outcome of Sunday's match could have a huge bearing on the winner of the Golden Boot, although Cristiano Ronaldo's group-stage haul of five means he might have already done enough.

Lukaku is building on a fabulous couple of seasons at Inter and has three for Belgium so far, with the centre-forward seeming to come alive whenever De Bruyne is in close proximity.

A marginal offside call had already thwarted the De Bruyne-Lukaku link before Belgium's number seven and number nine combined to complete the scoring against Finland.

It is not a one-way relationship, either, with Lukaku holding up play expertly for De Bruyne to lay Thomas Meunier's equaliser on a plate in the Denmark match.

 

Of De Bruyne and Lukaku's seven combinations at Euro 2020 – when one of them has passed to the other – six have ended in the opposition penalty area, underling their considerable threat in tandem.

Fernandes and Ronaldo have passed to one another 15 times, but only two of these exchanges have ended in the area and neither yielded a goal.

Their combinations have also been uneven. Fernandes came on in the 72nd minute against France and he and Ronaldo each passed to the other once. They shared three in total despite being on the pitch for 89 minutes together versus Hungary.

Perhaps this speaks of the respective status of the two playmakers with their countries. Fernandes, 26, is in Ronaldo's shadow like the rest of his international team-mates, meaning the cajoling leader on show at Old Trafford is unlikely to be seen to the same extent. Much like his overall presence, his on-field contributions have shrunk.

 

De Bruyne is second to no one in the Belgium set-up, the shining light of a celebrated generation alongside Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

It means that, while they might compete as men of equal status in the next Manchester derby, De Bruyne will be the heartbeat of Belgium's bid for a quarter-final spot as Fernandes seeks to muscle in and make his own talents felt from the margins.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be the man in the spotlight on Sunday, but Roberto Martinez says Belgium cannot afford to focus only on the Portugal star. 

Ronaldo tied Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals with a pair of penalties against France to send Portugal into the knockout stage of the European Championship. 

Still, Martinez insists Ronaldo will get no special attention in their last-16 clash. 

"When you put a plan against a specific player, you can be hurt by other players," the Belgium head coach told a news conference. "The way that Portugal plays, they’ve got a lot of threat, they’ve got a lot of pace in behind.

"Of course Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be the player that gets the right moment, the right pass and the right chance, and you have to be always aware, but you have to defend the 10 outfield players of Portugal in the same measure.

"We need to be compact, we need to be really solid, and we need to defend as a team.

"Obviously we always think about the opposition and that’s always the case, you need to have that information, but I think we’ve got real good momentum and that’s where we’re concentrating."

Belgium conceded only one goal across their three wins in the group stage, but their prime reason for optimism may rest in Kevin De Bruyne's successful return. 

After his swift recovery from facial fractures suffered in the Champions League final, the Manchester City star played nearly the entire game against Denmark after scoring in his return to action as a half-time substitute against Denmark. 

"Kevin, it’s been great to be able to see him 45 minutes and then almost the 90 minutes, so I feel that he is in the perfect physical condition to go into this game," Martinez said. 

"Kevin will have the normal role, an influential role. He’s not a player that needs to play in a certain position. We need to give him that opportunity to be the play-maker, to be able to link up to that possession that we have.

"We will have to be patient against a really good, resolute, and well-defensive-structured Portugal team, but I think we’re going to see ourselves doing what we always do."

Joao Moutinho urged his Portugal team-mates not to go overboard trying to stop Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne in their Euro 2020 last-16 tie on Sunday.

De Bruyne has lit up Belgium's last two performances having missed their opening game in Group B match against Russia with the facial injury he picked up in the Champions League final.

A brilliant assist and winning goal saw the Manchester City playmaker inspire Roberto Martinez's side to a 2-1 win over Denmark having come off the bench at half-time.

Belgium made it three consecutive wins after a 2-0 victory over Finland with De Bruyne laying on Romelu Lukaku's third goal of the tournament.

De Bruyne has only played 134 minutes at Euro 2020 and has created five chances with an expected assists (xA) value of 1.18.

Since (and including) the 2014 World Cup, De Bruyne has created 71 chances in major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), more than any other European player in that time.

Moutinho will be one of those charged with stifling De Bruyne's influence, but warned about singling out the player for too much attention.

"Kevin is very competent, we have to be careful but not just focus on one player," Portugal midfielder Moutinho told a media conference.

 

"If he has space to play it's even more dangerous. But if all of them have space, they will play their game calmly and that will make our job difficult. 

"That would set the others free and that would be even worse. As a team we will try to minimise their strengths and put ours into practice, not only focus on De Bruyne.

"If the manager thinks I'm the player with the characteristics to face Belgium, I'll do that. Try to impose my experience and the pace of the game that interests us the most. 

"I'm available to give my best, that's what we all want to do, for the team to achieve its goals."

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has dubbed the match a "final" and acknowledged the defending champions must improve on their displays in the group stage.

"We know that we are going to have a competent opponent. I believe, I hope and I am convinced that we will be more competent," he said.

"To reach the final, this is the first final. What we have to do is not to give space. The team that defends better, knows how to manage the ball better and create opportunities, will win the game."

All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo again on Sunday as he looks to become the outright world-record holder for international goals, though being out of the focus will do Portugal's opponents Belgium no harm.

The Juventus star tied Ali Daei's long-standing record of 109 goals with a pair of penalties in Portugal's thrilling 2-2 draw with France, the result ensuring the Selecao reached the knockout phase.

One more will put Ronaldo out in front, while he may also have designs on chasing down Michel Platini's record for the most goals scored in a single European Championship (nine in Euro 84).

But despite Ronaldo's five goals thus far, it has been by no means plain sailing for Portugal, whose four points was the poorest group-stage haul for a defending European champion since Greece in 2008 (zero).

 

Fernando Santos' men arguably could not have picked a stronger opponent to face next as they prepare to tussle with Belgium in Seville on Sunday, and while Portugal put their faith in Ronaldo, former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is a similarly talismanic figure for Roberto Martinez.

"Going to Inter was the perfect move, at the perfect time, with a perfect coach, with a perfect dream of winning the Serie A title," Martinez told ESPN.

"I think that has developed Lukaku to a level that is, for me, the best in his career. For me – and you know I am biased – he is the best striker in the world."

Since the 2018 World Cup concluded, Lukaku has 23 goals in 21 games across all competitions for Belgium and is just one shy of equalling his best return at a major tournament (four, 2018 World Cup).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Belgium – Kevin De Bruyne

As well as enthusing about Lukaku, Belgium coach Martinez has also declared midfielder De Bruyne to be the best in the world in his position – and few would disagree with that assertion. Although he has only played 134 minutes at Euro 2020, De Bruyne has had a hand in three of Belgium's seven goals (one goal, two assists). Add to that the fact his 71 chances created in major tournaments since the start of the 2014 World Cup is bettered by no European player, then perhaps it is Belgium who hold the trump card with De Bruyne, rather than Portugal with Ronaldo.

 

Portugal – Renato Sanches

Lille midfielder Sanches was brought into the team for the dropped Bruno Fernandes against France, and given how effective he was then, he will surely keep his place. Portugal really benefited from his well-rounded excellence: he made more ball recoveries than any other player on the pitch (eight), his three tackles was bettered by only Nelson Semedo among Portugal players and he was also key to their build-up play – his 38 passes in the opposing half was 11 more than any of his team-mates.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Ronaldo is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), with his double against France moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals. Indeed, that was Ronaldo's second brace of Euro 2020 already – no player has ever registered three in a single tournament at the European Championship.

- Belgium's victory over Finland last time out marked their ninth win at the World Cup and Euros combined under Martinez, with the Spaniard now holding the outright managerial record for major tournament wins with the Red Devils.

- Portugal have conceded six goals in three games at Euro 2020, already one more than they did at Euro 2016 when they went on to lift the trophy (five goals conceded in seven games). The last time Portugal conceded two or more goals in three consecutive games was in February 2013 under Paulo Bento. They shipped four to Germany followed by two to France in their last two games.

- Belgium have reached the knockout stages in each of their last five appearances at a major tournament (Euros and World Cup), progressing to the semi-final in their previous one at the 2018 World Cup. Their defeat to eventual winners France in 2018 is the only one of their last 10 games at major tournaments that they have failed to win (W9).

- Belgium have only failed to score in two of their previous 58 games under Martínez, averaging exactly three goals per game in this stretch of fixtures (174 in total). The two games where they have been shut out came in the 2018 World Cup semi-final against France (losing 1-0) and in their most recent meeting with Portugal, a 0-0 draw in June 2018.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a "great champion but at times he can be annoying", according to Hungary boss Marco Rossi.

Hungary came up against Ronaldo's Portugal at Euro 2020, beaten 3-0 by the defending champions on matchday one following the superstar's late brace.

Ronaldo has scored five goals in three games to lead Portugal to the last 16 and a blockbuster showdown with Belgium, but Hungary head coach Rossi hit out at the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"Ronaldo is a great champion but at times he can be annoying," Rossi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"After the penalty with us he celebrated as if he had scored in the final. People notice these things."

Ronaldo equalled Ali Daei's long-standing men's record for international goals.

The 36-year-old Juventus forward scored twice from the penalty spot to move onto 109 goals for Portugal as they secured passage to the knockout stages of Euro 2020 with a 2-2 draw against France on Wednesday.

Ronaldo is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), with his brace against France moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals.

Indeed, that was Ronaldo's second brace of Euro 2020 already – no player has ever registered three in a single tournament at the European Championships.

Romelu Lukaku needs no inspiration as Belgium prepare to face Portugal in Euro 2020, though a personal battle with Cristiano Ronaldo serves as extra motivation.

Ronaldo edged out Lukaku in the Serie A scoring charts in 2020-21, with the 36-year-old Juventus star netting 29 times in comparison to the Inter striker's tally of 24 league goals.

While Ronaldo won that tussle, Lukaku led Inter to their first Serie A crown in 11 years.

The duo will now meet up on the international stage, Belgium facing off against Portugal in Seville on Sunday with a quarter-final spot on the line.

"On the personal level, yes," Lukaku told a news conference when asked if going up against Ronaldo in Serie A had improved him as a player.

"As a team it was just important to win the championship. We've done it. It was exceptional, the way we were in all the big matches, we won a lot, it was a great season for us. We hope to do it next year."

Lukaku added: "I would like to have his dribble and the way he kicks the ball. He would like to have my power!"

The Belgium star is on three goals so far in Euro 2020, but Ronaldo leads the way with five, albeit three of those strikes have come from the spot.

Ronaldo scored twice from 12 yards against France last time out, matching Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals in the process.

He is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments, with his brace against France moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals. Indeed, that was Ronaldo's second double at Euro 2020 – no player has ever registered three in a single tournament at the European Championships.

"Those are impressive numbers. If there is anybody who can achieve those numbers it’s him, hats off to him, to do that over and over," Lukaku continued.

"How old is he – 36? [Juve] went out in the Champions League against Porto. The way he got criticism, I was like 'wow; it's unbelievable'.

"Then the next game he scored a hat-trick. It's motivational when you have somebody in your own league who can do it in that age, then you think why couldn't I get to that level, or as close as possible? He's a player you can count on, he wins – that's impressive."

 

Though not as sensational as Ronaldo's, Lukaku also has an international record to boast about. The former Manchester United man has scored 23 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions for Belgium, while also providing four assists in this run, and he believes he has proven his worth as one of the best forwards in the game.

"I wanted to step to the next level, to get better," Lukaku explained.

"People always would talk about [Harry] Kane, [Robert] Lewandowski, [Karim] Benzema, and say it was world-class level, with me it was always 'good form'.

"In the last two years I've shown that it's not just good form, I belong with that group. The thing I really want to do is start winning. The fact we won with Inter has given me more motivation to further improve. The final goal would be to win with the national team. That would be the ultimate recognition for the players here and pride for Belgium.

"I need that, the line between provocation, some people go over it. I go to the line and then I know that's the limit and then I just want to win – that's my goal.

"I think I've gotten to the next level. I keep going up. Everything's possible. It's a matter of work, finding the little things that make you better. I know I've progressed a lot, that's for sure. But I'm always looking for that little extra."

Toby Alderweireld said star-studded Belgium have an "unbelievable" desire to win Euro 2020 as they prepare to face defending champions Portugal in the round of 16.

Belgium and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will go head-to-head in Seville for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Number one in the world rankings, Belgium have never won a major tournament, having finished runners-up at the European Championship in 1980, while the Red Devils finished third at the 2018 World Cup.

Belgium have reached the knockout stages in each of their last five appearances at a major tournament (Euros and World Cup), progressing to the semi-final in their previous one at Russia 2018. Their defeat to eventual winners France three years ago is the only one of their last 10 games at major tournaments that they have failed to win (W9).

Boasting a golden generation, including Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Youri Tielemans and Thibaut Courtois, veteran defender Alderweireld is bullish about Belgium's chances.

"I want to see it differently," Alderweireld replied when asked if Portugal have an advantage given their 2016 success. "I can't talk about how they feel or how they think, the only thing I can say is that we are very hungry.

"The desire is unbelievable with us to achieve big things for our country and for this team. So we will do everything in our powers to beat them."

On whether this Belgium generation can be the one to deliver a trophy, Tottenham's Alderweireld said: "We will do everything in our powers to become that generation. I think we have already shown that we can beat any team if we have a good day.

"But we know it is going to be a tough opponent, but we believe in our ideas and in our quality."

Belgium will come up against superstar Ronaldo, who equalled Ali Daei for the most international goals in men's football with his 109th following a two-goal haul in Portugal's 2-2 draw against France.

But Alderweireld and Belgium are wary of more than just Ronaldo, the 32-year-old adding: "I think they are a very difficult team to beat. They have a lot of quality, the team is very compact, they know how to play big games in big tournaments.

"A lot of experience as well, so I think we have to be top to beat them. Of course everyone talks about Cristiano Ronaldo, we know he is one of the best in the world. But not only him, I think they have a lot of quality around him as well who create chances for him, So again we have to be top to beat them."

Belgium have only failed to score in two of their last 58 games under head coach Roberto Martinez, averaging exactly three goals per game in this stretch of fixtures (174 in total).

The two games they have been shut out came in the 2018 World Cup semi-final against France (0-1), and in their most recent meeting with Portugal – a 0-0 draw in June 2018.

Belgium's victory over Finland last time out marked their ninth win at the World Cup and Euros combined under Martinez, with the Spaniard now holding the outright managerial record for major tournament wins with the Red Devils.

With the group stage of Euro 2020 now over, we can get down to the important business: arguing over who have been the best players until now.

The first three matchdays produced some enthralling spectacles, a handful of shocks and one or two rather forgettable encounters of which there is no need to speak any more.

We have seen some rather obvious star turns, such as a certain Portugal striker equalling the record for international goals in men's football, while other standout performers have flown a little more under the radar.

Here, using Opta data for added insight, Stats Perform presents the Euro 2020 team of the group stage. Please do read on for a few explanations before starting on those angry comments...

 

 

GK: DANNY WARD

Wales battled their way into the knockout rounds after finishing second in Group A, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference. Much of that is down to Danny Ward's form.

The Leicester City man saved 86.7 of the shots on target he faced, the best record among keepers to make at least five saves.

 

LCB: DALEY BLIND

The Netherlands surprised a few people with three convincing wins in Group C, with Daley Blind's calm yet authoritative presence at the heart of their performances.

Blind completed 221 passes in the group stage, more than any other Oranje player, with more than half of those (115) coming in opposition territory.

 

CB: ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN

Quite rightly celebrated for that thunderbolt of a goal in Denmark's key victory over Russia, Andreas Christensen's all-round displays make him worthy of inclusion here.

The Chelsea defender won 79.2 of his duels in the first three rounds, a tally bettered only by Oleksandr Karavaev (80 per cent) and Thomas Vermaelen (90 per cent) among those to contest at least 10.

 

RCB: LEONARDO BONUCCI

Italy's 1.3 expected goals against was the lowest figure of any side in the group phase, underlining the imperious nature of their form not just at these finals but in the whole of their 11-game winning run in which they have not let in a single goal.

Leonardo Bonucci has been the rock at the back, particularly with Giorgio Chiellini battling injury. He has won possession 11 times, the most of any Azzurri defender, and has yet to be beaten by a dribble.

 

LWB: JORDI ALBA

Jordi Alba was Spain's standout performer until the rest of the team somewhat caught up on matchday three as they turned on the style to thrash Slovakia 5-0.

The Barcelona left-back completed 247 passes, the most of any defender after Aymeric Laporte (259), while leading the way for possession won (30 times).

 

CM: GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM

With three goals in three games, Georginio Wijnaldum surpassed the great Marco van Basten on the all-time Netherlands scoring charts to reach 25 for his country.

Enjoying a more advanced role at these finals, Paris Saint-Germain fans are being given a glimpse of what the midfielder could provide for them next season.

 

CM: PIERRE-EMILE HOJBJERG

Alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is one of only two midfielders to create nine goalscoring chances during the group stage.

The Tottenham man set up two Denmark's goals in the 4-1 hammering of Russia to move to three assists at these finals, a tally matched only by Switzerland's Steven Zuber.

 

CM: MANUEL LOCATELLI

His two goals against Switzerland were the highlight of his group-stage displays and made Manuel Locatelli just the third Italy player to score twice in a single European Championship match.

The Sassuolo star was rested against Wales, but the quality of his performances in the first two games prompted rumours that Juventus have redoubled their efforts to sign him.

 

RWB: DENZEL DUMFRIES

Full-back Denzel Dumfries became an unlikely goalscoring hero for Frank de Boer, becoming just the second Netherlands player to score in his first two European Championship games (the first was Ruud van Nistelrooy).

Denmark wing-back Joakim Maehle was the only nominal defender with more touches in the opposition box (20) during the group stage than Dumfries (17).

 

CF: ROMELU LUKAKU

Continuing his spectacular Inter form at these finals, Romelu Lukaku scored three times in Belgium's group games from a total of just four shots on target.

He would probably be the favourite for the Golden Boot were it not for the form of the only man to outscore him in Serie A last season...

 

CF: CRISTIANO RONALDO

With five goals in three games, Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined (21).

The Portugal captain needs just one more to surpass Ali Daei as the top-scoring international men's footballer of all time.

We had to wait an extra year, but the Euro 2020 group stage threw up drama and records – and in terms of goals it delivered magnificently.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku hitting their stride, it was a feast for the strikers, with 94 goals scored across the 36 games.

That represented a massive raising of the bar after only 69 goals were netted at the same stage in the 2016 tournament.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the most eye-catching numbers that defined the first 13 days of this delayed tournament – ahead of the do-or-die knockout stage getting under way.

 

Ronaldo making up for lost time

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single European Championship since Michel Platini bagged seven for France in 1984, on his way to a nine-goal tournament tally. Three of Ronaldo's goals for Portugal at this tournament have been penalties, while Platini netted just one spot-kick during France's run 37 years ago.

Impressively, Platini's goals in 1984 came from an expected goals (xG) rate of just 3.32, while Ronaldo has recorded his five from a total of 4.71 so far. Opta builds its expected goals data by measuring the quality of an attempt based on variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance. It means Ronaldo has put away approximately the number of goals he should have expected to score.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with France, the first game in the history of the Euros to see three spot-kicks scored, excluding shoot-outs.

Defending champions Portugal have been far from perfect, however, dropping a competition-high five points from winning positions.

While Ronaldo has the most goals of any player so far in these finals, he has not been able to keep up with the rising tide of own goals. There have been a staggering eight, as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined.

 

Firing range

Why wait until seeing the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes before offloading a shot?

Patrik Schick had one quick glance towards David Marshall's goal and let fly from 49.7 yards at Hampden Park to put the Czech Republic 2-0 in front against Scotland. That incredible moment gave Schick the longest-range strike on record at the European Championship, with such measured distances available from the 1980 tournament onwards.

There were 304 shots from outside the penalty area in the group stage, but only 12 goals scored from such long range. That ratio of one goal for every 25.3 shots from long distance was nevertheless an improvement on the Euro 2016 numbers, when just 16 goals from outside the area were scored from 638 attempts across the whole tournament – one every 39.9 shots.

 

Low Countries, tall targets

Belgium and the Netherlands are nations who have experienced mixed fortunes on the football field in the 21st century, but both will feel a big moment could be arriving.

The Belgian Red Devils were absent from all major tournaments between their appearances at the 2002 and 2014 World Cups, while the Dutch were conspicuous by their absence from Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Lukaku, with three goals so far, has been a terrific spearhead of the Belgium side, netting 50 per cent of the goals their players have netted (excluding own goals) at Euro 2020 despite only taking 22 per cent of their shots – seven of 32 attempts.

If Lukaku keeps firing, with Kevin De Bruyne and co prompting from midfield, then Belgium, who have never won a World Cup or European Championship, have a strong chance to show why they are ranked by FIFA as the world's number one team.

Belgium exceeded their collective xG tally by 3.15 – scoring seven against xG of 3.85 – the highest number by which any side surpassed their expected goals in their opening three games.

Their neighbours, the Netherlands, have also caught the eye. Ronald Koeman lifted the Oranje from their doldrums and successor Ronald de Boer has guided the team through the group stage as top scorers and with a 100 per cent record.

That Group C success, with eight goals scored and two conceded, came on the back of Georginio Wijnaldum scoring three times. In doing so, he has overtaken Marco van Basten and Dirk Kuyt on the list of the Netherlands' leading international goalscorers, moving to 25, one ahead of the former Milan and Liverpool forwards.

Or, to put it another way, Wijnaldum is halfway to matching Robin van Persie's record haul of 50 international goals.

 

Boring, boring England?

England, by netting only twice, became the lowest-scoring side to ever finish top of a group at a European Championship. They did not so much storm through Group D as plod a methodical path through to the last-16 stage, although an xG of 4.45 suggests England have at least been creating chances, albeit not finishing as well as they might.

Yet England might yet go far. Germany visit Wembley next Tuesday and will encounter English players who have only been dribbled past 12 times in the group stage, the lowest number among all competing teams. England's expected goals against (xGA) tally is a miserly 1.33, the second lowest in the tournament behind an Italy side (1.3) who have got it right at both ends of the pitch to.

Turkey's players were dribbled past on 36 occasions, a group-stage high, and only North Macedonia (8.85) had a higher xGA than Senol Gunes' team (7.69), who failed to live up to 'dark horse' expectations.

 

Riding their luck? Or being all out of it?

Wales conceded just twice, defying an xGA total of 5.47, and reached the knockout stage on the back of that. The gap of 3.47 between expectation and reality with that metric was the highest among all competing teams.

Conversely, Scotland scored just once against an xG of 4.00 – with 3.00 the highest negative difference between xG and goals scored.

Russia bowed out, and could hardly blame anyone but themselves. Their players made three errors leading to goals – more than any other side and the joint-most by any nation at a finals going back to 1980, the point from which records are available.

Hungary also exited the tournament. They predictably finished last in the 'group of death' – adrift of France, Germany and Portugal – but Hungary were surprisingly ahead for more minutes and trailed for fewer than any other team in that Group F campaign.

Denmark squeezed through in second place behind Belgium in Group B, becoming the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group stage games. After the alarm of the Christian Eriksen situation, many would love them to go further.

Would you Luka that!

Luka Modric became the oldest player to score for Croatia at the Euros, netting a gorgeous strike in the 3-1 win against Scotland at the age of 35 years and 286 days. That made it an unusual double for the veteran playmaker, who also holds the record for being Croatia's youngest scorer at the tournament (22 years 73 days versus Austria in 2008).

Modric continues to marvel, and there was a slice of history for another midfielder in the group stage as Switzerland's Steven Zuber became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game – doing so against Turkey – after Portugal's Rui Costa in his rampaging 2000 display that tormented England and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 against Yugoslavia.

Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo provided some of the most enduring images of Euro 2020 when France faced off with Portugal on Wednesday.

Social media was abuzz over the "bromance" between the former Real Madrid team-mates, the pair sharing a cheeky smirk with one another prior to kick-off and then embracing both at half-time and after the final whistle.

The duo both moved to the Santiago Bernabeu at the same time in their careers ahead of the 2009-10 season and enjoyed nine prolific campaigns together before Ronaldo – Madrid's all-time record goalscorer – moved on to Juventus.

Clearly, the respect the two have for one another still runs deep, with Benzema revealing what they discussed after a thrilling 2-2 draw in Budapest, a result which means both teams progress to the last 16.

"It's nice to see him again, we have come a long way together," Benzema told reporters following a game in which he and Ronaldo both scored twice.

"We both played eight or nine years at Real Madrid, we scored goals, won trophies.

"We spoke, we wished each other good luck for the future with our clubs and in the tournament and especially to continue to have fun on the field and continue to make the difference."

Ronaldo has scored five times in the tournament to draw level with Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals. Portugal next face Belgium, while world champions France are up against Switzerland.

Didier Deschamps has concerns over the fitness of defensive duo Lucas Digne and Lucas Hernandez as France get ready to play in a "new competition" at Euro 2020.

France finished top of Group F thanks to a 2-2 draw against fellow qualifiers Portugal on Wednesday, with second-placed Germany also making it through to the last 16.

Reigning world champions France saw Karim Benzema score twice – his first goals at international level since October 8, 2015 – but had to finish the game in Budapest with midfielder Adrien Rabiot playing at left-back.

Deschamps substituted Hernandez at half-time due to what he described as a minor knee issue, though the Bayern Munich player had also received a yellow card in the 36th minute.

Replacement Digne did not last long and, as the France head coach revealed in his post-match news conference, the Everton player could now be ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Asked to provide an update on both players, Deschamps told the media: "The most worrying is Lucas Digne.

"He has a muscle injury, he felt a pull behind his thigh. It will be very complicated [for the rest of Euro 2020].

"Lucas Hernandez also had a small problem, his knee reacted a bit. I didn't want to take any risks. Unfortunately in the same game, I lost both. We'll see for Hernandez in the next few days."

 

Deschamps utilised Jules Kounde at right-back in a 4-2-3-1 system, though made clear it is by no means certain he will stick with the formation for their next game, which sees France take on Switzerland in the round of 16.

"It seemed to me to be better disposed on an individual and collective level, but it will not always be that for the future," he said on his tactical approach. "It can be, but it is not a firm and definitive position today."

France finished with five points from their three games. They are unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage outings at major international tournaments, winning seven and drawing five.

"Other teams were able to give a better impression than ours," Deschamps said after engineering a path out of a tough group.

"But a new competition will begin. Winning against Germany was very important for us. Having taken a point in a particular context against Hungary, it gave us the qualification before this match.

"As I told the players, there was no math to do except at the end. We did not do everything well, but the state of mind was there, we can still improve things. I am very satisfied to be there once again."

Fernando Santos hailed Portugal's strength of character after they kept their European Championship defence alive with a 2-2 draw against France in Budapest.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a penalty in each half of the Euro 2020 fixture to move level with Ali Daei as the most prolific international footballer of all time on 109 goals.

When Karim Benzema's second goal of a gripping contest at the Puskas Arena gave world champions France a 2-1 lead two minutes into the second half, Portugal – who suffered a chastening 4-2 defeat to Germany last weekend – were staring at elimination.

But superstar captain Ronaldo induced a handball from Jules Kounde that was punished by whistle-happy referee Mateu Lahoz and stepped up to do the rest.

"What I really liked was the team's collective behaviour," Portugal head coach Santos told reporters afterwards.

"When I was asked what we had to do that was different from the game against Germany, I said it was to be like ourselves.

"We were strong, consistent, with a great spirit. We can continue to improve.

"In the second half we didn't start well but we regrouped."

 

Joao Palhinha was introduced at half-time in place of Danilo Pereira, who suffered a heavy blow to the head when Hugo Lloris fouled him for Ronaldo's first penalty.

Sporting CP midfielder Palhinha did his part in implementing Santos' game plan after Benzema dispatched Paul Pogba's magnificent throughball to ramp up the pressure on the reigning champions.

"The Germany game served as a lesson. The team improved a lot, defending more compactly, managing [the game] better with the ball, and that was reflected today," Palhinha told UEFA.com.

"The coach asked me to be more positional, to be more compact in the middle, and to not give space to the midfielders and [Antoine] Griezmann."

A daunting last-16 assignment awaits against Belgium in Seville on Sunday, with Roberto Martinez's side enjoying two days' extra rest after coasting to three group wins from three games.

"Now we have to think about Belgium, who are tough opponents. If we look at the rankings, they are first. But let's evaluate and realise what we have to do for this match," Santos added.

"Is not at a disadvantage [to have less recovery time. Rest is very important, we have to recover so that they are fresh. We cannot use this as a handicap.

"Let's see if there have been any changes in Belgium, let's analyse the team and prepare for the game with the usual goal: to move forwards."

The final round of group games at Euro 2020 did not disappoint, producing plenty of drama as the final spots in the last 16 were settled.

There were 18 goals scored across the four fixtures – the most on a single day in the history of the European Championships – with Spain putting five past Slovakia to get out of Group E alongside Sweden, who came out on top against Poland thanks to a late, late winner.

In Group F, Hungary threatened an upset but were twice pegged back by Germany in a 2-2 draw, while Portugal and France ended in the same scoreline thanks to record-breaker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Before the focus switches to the knockout stages, Stats Perform reflects on a dramatic conclusion to the round-robin stage.


Slovakia 0-5 Spain: Landmark win comes with a little help

Spain equalled the largest margin of victory in a game at the European Championship, becoming the fifth different side to win by five goals in the competition. The others? France and Denmark in 1984, the Netherlands in 2000 and Sweden in 2004).

It was also a milestone win, Spain's 50th at a major tournament. They are the fourth European nation to reach a half-century, joining Germany, Italy and France.

They were helped out by a Slovakia side that scored not one but two own goals, Martin Dubravka and Juraj Kucka the unfortunate duo to take the tally to eight in this year's tournament. The result means head coach Stefan Tarkovic has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since taking charge, with this his 12th game at the helm.

Ferran Torres grabbed the fourth goal of the contest with what was his first touch of the game. He scored just 44 seconds after coming on as a substitute – the quickest goal scored by a replacement at a European Championship since fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Valeron in 2004 (39 seconds versus Russia).

Sweden 3-2 Poland: Lewandowski at the double in defeat

Sweden continued their excellent form against Poland – they have won 10 of the past 12 meetings, including six in a row now – thanks in part to a fast start.

Emil Forsberg broke the deadlock after just 81 seconds, the second quickest goal scored from the start of a European Championship fixture. Dmitri Kirichenko holds the record for the fastest, doing so in a mere 65 seconds for Russia against Greece in 2004.

Poland rallied from 2-0 down to draw level thanks to Robert Lewandowski, who made sure he was on target in consecutive major tournament appearances for the first time in his career. He now has 69 goals for his country – the rest of his nation's squad at Euro 2020 have managed a combined total of 34.

However, the Bayern Munich forward will not be able to add to his tally at Euro 2020, with Poland exiting as their winless run was extended to six games. Viktor Claesson grabbed the winner in added time, meaning Sweden scored three in a game at the Euros for the first time since beating Bulgaria 5-0 in 2004.

 

Portugal 2-2 France: Benzema back on target as Ronaldo hits the spot

There were four goals, three penalties, two different scorers and one record broken in an eventful draw in Budapest.

Ronaldo converted both as Portugal became the first team to score two spot-kicks in a single European Championship fixture. The Juventus superstar's double makes him the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single Euros since Michel Platini (seven in 1984), who is the only individual to have managed more in a single group round.

Talisman Ronaldo also became the first European player in World Cup and European Championship history to score a combined 20 or more goals across the competitions. His tally sits at 21, while he has 109 in his Portugal career, putting him level with Ali Daei as the leading international men's scorer.

His former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema also grabbed a brace. His first of the game saw him score for France for the first time since October 8, 2015, five years and 258 days ago. It is the longest gap between goals for Les Bleus since current boss Didier Deschamps went seven years between finding the net.

France are now unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage outings at major tournaments, with their reward for topping the table being a last-16 clash with Switzerland.

Germany 2-2 Hungary: Goretzka earns Low a little more time

On a night with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride, Germany needed a late equaliser to make sure they progressed from the group stage for a seventh time in eight major international tournaments.

Joachim Low's reign appeared set for an unexpectedly early end when they trailed both 1-0 and 2-1 in Munich, with Adam Szalai's opener seeing Germany become one of only four sides to concede first in all three of their group outings, after Turkey, North Macedonia and Poland.

Kai Havertz equalised, in the process becoming the fourth-youngest player to score in back-to-back major tournament appearances for Germany, after Thomas Muller (2010), Franz Beckenbauer (1966) and Lukas Podolski (2006).

There was a first opportunity at Euro 2020 for teenager Jamal Musiala, who became the youngest player to make an appearance for the German national team at a major tournament, aged 18 years and 117 days.

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