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Action is heating up in the European Championships with Italy, Denmark, Belgium and the Czech Republic already through to the last eight in the Euro 2020 tournament. (Photo : Pixabay)
Belgium and the Czech Republic advanced to the quarterfinals after recording victories against Portugal and the Netherlands, respectively, in the Round of 16 in the Euro 2020. They now joined Italy and Denmark, who booked their places in the quarterfinal round on Saturday.
Action resumes in the knockout rounds later today with two thrilling last 16 matchups. Kicking things off is the mouth-watering clash between European powerhouses Spain and Croatia, who both progressed to the round of 16 courtesy of impressive Matchday 3 wins.
Croatia claimed second place in Group D with a 3-1 victory over Scotland in Glasgow, while Spain recorded a 5-0 thrashing of Slovakia in Seville.
Following that round of 16 match is the game between France and Switzerland. France finished top in the group of death, recording a vital victory against Germany before producing draws against Hungary and Portugal.
On the other hand, Switzerland booked their place in the knockout stages with a decisive 3-1 victory over Turkey on Matchday 3. The two nations faced each other at Euro 2016, with the French and the Swiss playing out a drab goalless draw.
Hazard fires Belgium into the quarters
Belgium booked a place in the last eight with a narrow 1-0 victory over Portugal on Sunday. Thorgan Hazard scored the winning goal for the Belgians, who will next face powerhouse Italy in the quarterfinals.
Hazard broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute with the Borussia Dortmund star’s swerving attempt from 25 yards out, finding the back of the net.
Roberto Martinez’s men, however, had to hold on for dear life as the Portuguese unleashed a furious fightback in the second half. They played their best football of the tournament in the final 45 minutes, recording 15 shots against Belgium as Portugal searched for the equalizer.
However, to no avail, with Diogo Jota wasting some clear goal-scoring chances, Ruben Dias’ header getting saved, and Raphael Guerreiro’s late drive agonizingly striking the post.
The victory came at a huge price for Belgium, though, as two of their key stars suffered injuries. Kevin De Bruyne limped off the pitch moments after half-time while Eden Hazard was also substituted due to an injury complaint. The race is now on for both of those players to be fit for their crunch clash against Italy in Munich on July 2.
Related Article: Euro 2020 Round of 16 Matches, Schedule and Preview
Czechs record major shock in the Round of 16
The Czech Republic recorded a major upset on Sunday, beating the Netherlands, 2-0, in the Round of 16 on Sunday. The Dutch entered this game as huge favorites, having won their three group matches and is ranked 24 places above the Czechs in the world.
The game turned in the 55th minute when Matthijs de Ligt was sent off after a VAR review saw the Dutch defender deny Patrik Schick a clear goal-scoring opportunity with a handball.
The Czechs took full advantage with the Dutch a man down, scoring twice in 12 minutes. Tomas Holes opened the scoring in the 68th minute, nodding in a header from Antonin Barak’s free kick. Holes then turned provider in the 80th minute, delivering a beautiful pass to Schick, who scored his fourth goal of the tournament and sealed the shock win for the Czechs.
The Czech Republic will now travel to Azerbaijan to face Denmark in the quarterfinals next. They faced each other in the last eight back in the Euro 2004, with the Czech Republic recording a 3-0 win over Denmark.
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