Belgium was looking to advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday against the Hungarians. The Belgian national team has been inconsistent so far at the Euro and we were wondering what team to expect in Toulouse: the team that barely beat Sweden and lost to Italy or the team that dominated the Republic of Ireland.
In the opening minutes of the match, it quickly became clear that the dominant Red Devils had taken to the pitch but Hungary was not going to go down without a fight. The Hungarians defended tenaciously for the opening minutes before making their only major mistake of the half: they conceded a free kick to Belgium. Hungary failed to cover Toby Alderwiereld who headed in the cross for the first goal of the match.
Other than that goal, Hungary played exceptionally. Probably well enough to have retreated to the locker with a draw against just about any other team in the tournament. The first half was played at a blistering pace by both teams and was an absolute pleasure to watch. Belgium pressed from the start but Hungary also managed a few shots that worried Thibaut Courtois.
It was in the 2nd half that the match gradually slipped out of reach for Hungary. Even though the exceptional quality of football was maintained, Belgium's superiority in terms of raw talent started to shine through.
After withstanding Belgium's increasingly dangerous attacks for the first 30 minutes of the second half, Hungary conceded for the 2nd time. The ball fell to Eden Hazard off of a corner from his teammate Kevin De Bruyne. Chelsea's star winger then played the ball on for himself before crossing to a wide open Michy Batshuayi who, with his first touch of the match, doubled Belgium's lead.
Hazard continued to dazzle in the 80th minute. The Belgian captain received the ball on the counter attack on the left wing at the entrance to Hungary's half. He then dribbled around three Hungarian defenders before beating Gabor Kiraly to his right. Hazard had a fabulous performance on Saturday. Hazard was present on the attack as well as defensively. He was orchestrating Belgium's attacks and all the while finding space for himself. He was by far the most dominant player on the pitch and had the most impressive performance of any player so far in Euro 2016.
Belgium poured salt into Hungary's wounds in the 91st minute when Yannick Carrasco placed the ball past the Hungarian keeper. Belgium will now face Wales in the quarter-finals on July 1st.
In Saturday's match, Thomas Meunier was once again selected to play over Laurent Ciman at right back for Belgium. However, in the 67th minute, Thomas Vermaelen was awarded his second yellow card of the tournament and, therefore, will miss Belgium's quarter final game versus Wales. Vermaelen's absence may open the door to Ciman to start on the back line for Belgium against Wales.