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Defending Champions Portugal knocked out of Eurocup

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Czechs eliminate 10-man Netherlands, reach quarters

BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 27, (AP): Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick scored second-half goals to give the Czech Republic a 2-0 win over 10-man Netherlands and a place in the quarterfinals of the European Championship. Netherlands central defender Matthijs de Ligt was sent off for a handball in the 55th minute when under pressur from Schick. The red card was given following a video review. Holes scored with a powerful closerange header in the 68th minute and then broke into the left of the penalty area and set up Schick for his fourth goal of the tournament in the 80th. The Czechs will next face Denmark in Baku on Saturday. With three exquisite touches of control, technique and finishing, Federico Chiesa ended 95 minutes of Italian frustration. This record-breaking team is off to the quarterfinals of the European Championship with a defense that finally allowed a goal after more than 19 hours but with a national team-record 12th straight victory.

After breezing through the group stage at Euro 2020, Italy were made to fight for its 2-1 victory over Austria in a last-16 game that came to life in extra time. It was Roberto Mancini’s substitutes who made the difference with the goals from Chiesa and Matteo Pessina at Wembley Stadium. “We needed some fresh energy,” Mancini said, “and the guys who came on were brilliant.” An unmarked Chiesa brought down Leonardo Spinazzola’s high cross with his head, controlled the bouncing ball with his right boot and then used his other foot to shoot low into the net. “Usually when the ball arrives like this you try a first time on the volley,” Chiesa said. “But I think the goal came because I was composed, I was relaxed and I was focused.” The goal rolled the clock back 25 years to when European Championship games were last played in England and his father Enrico Chiesa scored for Italy. Euro ’96, however, ended in the group stage for Italy. After scoring seven goals without reply in the group stage, Italy didn’t have it so easy against an Austrian team playing in the knockout stage at a European Championship for the first time. “After 90 minutes we said that we just had to improve the quality of the final passes,” Spinazzola said, “and fi- nally the goals arrived in extra time.” Individual skill produced the breakthrough from Chiesa. Italy’s second was more about calmness in a goalmouth scramble. Pessina, who came on midway through the second half, sent the ball into the far corner of the net in the 105th minute. “In this team everybody can score and this is our main strength,” Pessina said. “We are a great group.” The group spirit was clear in the raw emotion of the goal celebrations as teammates collapsed on Pessina, a late injury replacement in the squad.

Belgium defeat Portugal

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo walks off the pitch after his team lost the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between Belgium and Portugal at the La Cartuja stadium in Seville, Spain,Sunday, June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, Pool)

Belgium eliminated reigning champions Portugal with a 1-0 victory in the round of 16 at the European Championship on Sunday. Thorgan Hazard scored a sensational long-range strike at the end of the first half to propel the Belgians into the quarterfinals and send Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. home at the Estadio Olímpico de la Cartuja in Seville. The win for Roberto Martinez’s men sets up a fascinating matchup with Italy in the last eight. But they may have to play the Italians without two of their biggest stars. A cagey first half saw its first goal three minutes before the half-time whistle when Hazard unleashed an unstoppable dipping shot from well outside of the box to put Belgium deservedly in front.

The goal was Hazard’s second at the tournament and put the Belgians on the front foot heading into the break. Belgium were dealt a blow minutes after the restart when Kevin De Bruyne was subbed off for an apparent injury. The influential midfielder was replaced by Dries Mertens. De Bruyne sat down pointing to his ankle and shook his head. He seemed fine after he first picked up the injury on a tackle from behind during the first half, but he couldn’t continue after only two minutes in the second half. The injury issues worsened minutes from full-time when Eden Hazard was taken off with an apparent hamstring injury after pulling out of a challenge and asking for a sub on the near touchline.

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