Ronaldo ‘proud’ of Portugal’s efforts; Thorgen steps out from brother’s shadow - GulfToday

Ronaldo ‘proud’ of Portugal’s efforts; Thorgen steps out from brother’s shadow

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts in frustration after his team lost the Euro 2020 round of 16 match against Belgium on Sunday. Associated Press

Captain Cristiano Ronaldo said on Monday he was “proud” of holders Portugal’s efforts despite bowing out of Euro 2020 after the weekend’s 1-0 last 16 loss to Belgium.

“We did not get the result we wanted and we leave the competition sooner than expected,” the 36-year-old Juventus star and five-time Ballon d’or winner admitted as his side failed to match their 2016 exploits.

“But we are proud of our showing. We did everything we could to retain the title of European champions and this group proved it could still give the Portuguese people much joy,” the former Manchester United and Real Madrid attacker posted on social media after Sunday’s loss.

“Congratulations to Belgium and good luck to all the teams left in. As for us, we shall return stronger,” vowed the veteran who at least could console himself with having matched the 109 international goals record of Iran’s Ali Daei during the tournament.

Ronaldo scored five times during the competition to take his European Championship tally to a record 14, matching Daei’s achievement with his goal in the 2-2 group game draw with world champions France. Ronaldo capped a lacklustre season in Portugal’s loss to Belgium.

Even though he scored more than 40 goals with his club and his country, his numbers were far from impressive by his standards. He failed to win the Italian league with Juventus, where his future remains uncertain with his contract ending next year. His only titles in 2021 came in the Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup.

Belgium goal hero Thorgen Hazard came out from under the shadow of brother Eden with the winner against Portugal in Seville on Sunday, ensuring his team a place in the European Championship quarter-finals.

The Bundesliga-based winger took aim from outside the penalty area with a rasping shot, that swung left and then right through the air, before crashing into the net to ensure Belgium’s progress from the last-16 and the elimination of the title holders.

The first to congratulate him was elder brother Eden, the Belgian skipper, whose exploits contrasted with that of his younger sibling when he had to leave the pitch before the end of the game with a suspected muscle tear. “I think we have to wait and see what happens with Eden,” said Thorgen, whose goal was the only one of the game. “Judging by the number of the messages I’ve had on my mobile, I do think it’s the most important goal of my career,” said Hazard.

It was the second of the tournament for Hazard, who now has eight goals for Belgium in 38 international appearances. “It was not easy against the European champion. It was hard in the second half, but we defended well and we qualified, that’s the most important thing.”

Euro not over for De Bruyne or Hazard, says Martinez: Belgium’s second-choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has had to pull out of the remainder of Euro 2020 with a knee injury, the Belgian football association announced on Monday.

The Club Brugge ‘keeper suffered the injury during the warm-up before Belgium’s 1-0 last-16 win over Portugal on Sunday.

He will be replaced by Blackburn Rovers stopper Thomas Kaminski in the squad. The 28-year-old Kaminski has never played for the senior national side.

It is another blow for Belgium, who face Italy in the quarter-finals on Friday in Munich, with star players Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne undergoing scans on Monday to diagnose the extent of their injuries suffered against Portugal.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez says De Bruyne’s injury is not serious and he will remain with the squad at the European Championship.

Martinez says it’s too early to know if De Bruyne will be available for Friday’s quarterfinal match against Italy at Euro 2020.

The Belgium coach says Hazard also doesn’t have a serious injury.


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