Football Features

“This is a man at the very peak of his powers” – Player ratings as Belgium beat Portugal to eliminate the champions from Euro 2020

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:27, 27 June 2021 | Updated: 11:31, 29 June 2021

In an epic heavyweight clash, Belgium beat defending champions Portugal 1-0 at Euro 2020 to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Here’s how the players rated at La Cartuja:


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Thibaut Courtois – 8 – Made big saves when he had to and started the move that led to Belgium’s opener with a delicious bit of skill to wrongfoot Cristiano Ronaldo. Claimed many Portuguese high crosses to take pressure off his defenders.

Toby Alderweireld – 8 – Struggled when Portugal isolated him but was really solid in the Belgian rearguard.

Thomas Vermaelen – 8 – A really impressive display from this injury-prone veteran. Made some massive tackles.

Jan Vertonghen – 8 – Always on hand to clear the ball.

Thomas Meunier – 8 – Really impressive in attack. A constant outlet in both halves and chipped in with a massive 5 clearances.

Youri Tielemans – 8 – Defended well in the middle and played some lovely passes too. Made a backheel clearance inside his own box late in the game that showed the level of confidence he’s operating on.

Axel Witsel – 8 – A brick wall in midfield who often led Belgium’s press. Struggled with Renato Sanches but then so did everyone.

Thorgan Hazard – 8 – Played really well on the left, driving forward and providing width. Scored the game-winning goal with a scorching drive – Eden Hazard has always insisted Thorgan was better (a classic bit of big brothering) but what if injuries and form have meant that he is now actually right?

Eden Hazard – 7 – Some lovely dribbling, including one move in the second-half where he left Pepe for dead, but was most overshadowed by his younger brother.

Kevin De Bruyne – 6 – Was playing well running the break and switching the play until a brutal tackle from Palhinha injured him. Tried to play on but sadly had to go off early in the second-half.

Romelu Lukaku – 8 – Bafflingly ignored by the referee despite some rough treatment from Portugal. Nevertheless persevered and battled well against the Portuguese defenders. His hold-up play in the lead-up to Belgium’s goal was absolutely magnificent and he continued at that ridiculous level all game long despite genuinely being brutalised on almost every possession. Only missed out on a 9 because he did use the ball poorly on a couple of breaks that could have killed the game. This is a world-class striker at the very peak of his powers.


Dries Mertens (for De Bruyne 48′) – 5 – Overhit Lukaku on a pass that could have sent him away. Was otherwise anonymous.

Yannick Carrasco (for Eden Hazard 87′) – 6 – Ruined two counter-attacks that could have killed the game. Frustrating.

Leander Dendocker (for Thorgan Hazard 90’+4) – n/a – Came on late.

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Rui Patricio – 5 – Could have done better on Hazard’s goal. Otherwise wasn’t really tested by a Belgium side who must have left their shooting boots at the airport.

Diogo Dalot – 6 – Struggled a bit with Belgian encroachment down his side, but his forward runs were a constant help for Portugal.

Pepe – 7 – He became increasingly violent as the match wore on and was incredibly fortunate to avoid a red card for what was a pretty clear elbow into the side of Thorgan Hazard’s head. Still, when he wasn’t brutalising people he defended with his usual level of excellence.

Ruben Dias – 6 – Defended well for the first-half but was outmuscled by Lukaku in the lead-up to Belgium’s goal and never recovered. Got dominated by the striker in the second-half, recovering to defend well on the deck but honestly a smarter Belgian attack would have made him suffer.

Raphael Guerreiro – 7 – Always available as an outlet on the left but was often ignored. Struck the post.

Joao Palhinha – 7 – Ran around fouling everyone. Somehow only picked up the one booking. Effective at his job.

Joao Moutinho – 5 – Nowhere near as influential as he needed to be. Subbed off.

Renato Sanches – 8 – Created a superb chance for Jota five mins in and just carried on at that level. An unstoppable juggernaut of pace, power, dribbling and precision. No Belgian could live with his technique nor his athleticism. Was the hub of everything good Portugal did, a genuine one-man army, until Bruno Fernandes came on to take over.

Bernardo Silva – 5 – Largely anonymous. Subbed off again.

Diogo Jota – 4 – Missing a superb chance five mins in was about the highlight of his night. Really poor.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 4 – One nice dribble and a clever header aside, he was anonymous as a force. Couldn’t get any joy from the veteran Belgian defence and wasted a few free-kick opportunities. Didn’t get a penalty.


Bruno Fernandes (for Bernardo 56′) – 6 – Added so much drive and focus to a wayward Portuguese attack but didn’t hit the target with any of his long shots and was defensive sieve.

Joao Felix (for Moutinho 56′) – 6 – Looked really bright when he came on.

Andre Silva (for Jota 70′) – 6 – Was a good target in the box but missed his best chance.

Danilo (for Pahinha 78′) – 5 – Came on late.

Sergio Oliveira (for Renato Sanches 78′) – 5 – Got involved.