MATCHDAY 9: Belgium Thrash Republic Of Ireland 3-0, Ronaldo Fails To Secure Win For Portugal, And More

The first game of match day 9 was played between Belgium and the Republic of Ireland, which the Belgians won 3-0.

Following a goalless first half, Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for Belgium 3 minutes into the second half with a clinical left-footed finish from the edge of the box. The lead was doubled in the 61st minute thanks to a headed goal by midfielder Axel Witsel. Lukaku then added his second and Belgium’s third in the 70th minute, converting a brilliant Hazard assist into goal.

Republic of Ireland failed to manage even a single shot on target, keeping Thibaut Courtois jobless throughout the game.

Romelu Lukaku was named the man of the match for his match-winning brace.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots talked about his team’s win, as well as the man of the match, in his post-match interview: “Unity is very important. We win and lose together. With Romelu Lukaku, we wanted to give him some confidence. I think he scored four goals in four matches but when he missed against Italy everyone was saying it’s all different. I just needed to explain things to him and make sure he knew I trusted him. He did what I expected today.”

A disappointed Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill also had his say: “You have to analyse the performance and assess where mistakes are made. The first goal was vitally important and that came from our attack – they broke and got the goal. Then as we started to chase the game we got caught a few times, Belgium are a good side and put the game beyond us.

“We’re bit disappointed with our performance considering how well we played against Sweden. We have to win this game against Italy and we feel that, once we’ve freshened ourselves up again, we’ll be ready to go.”

The second-place Belgium must now beat Sweden on Wednesday to directly go through to the round of 16, whereas Republic of Ireland must win against Group E leaders Italy if they are to stand any chance of going through as one of the four 3rd-place teams.

Iceland and Hungary played out a 1-1 draw in the second game of match day 9.

Gylfi Sigurðsson scored the first goal of the game in the 39th minute, converting a penalty from the spot, and thereby forcing Hungary to concede their first ever penalty goal in the European Championship.

Hungary dominated the game in the second half, and after numerous attempts on goal, the Icelandic defence finally broke, as Birkir Már Sævarsson scored an own goal by putting a Nemanja Nikolic cross into the back of his own net.

Swansea City star Gylfi Sigurðsson – who has now scored 5 of his last 7 goals for Iceland from the penalty spot – was named the man of the match.

A win against Portugal in Lyon on Wednesday will guarantee Hungary the top spot in Group F. Iceland, meanwhile, will also need a win over Austria if they are to secure direct qualification for the knockout stages.

Portugal and Austria remained locked in a goalless draw in the final game of match day 9. 

What began as a special night for Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo – who was making a record-breaking 128th appearance for Portugal – ended up in something very close to a disaster.

The Real Madrid star man won a penalty after getting fouled on by Austrian defender Martin Hinteregger. However, the 31-year-old failed to convert it from the spot, and hit the post instead.

This was Ronaldo’s first penalty miss at a major international tournament in normal time, and he has now missed four of his last five spot kicks for club and country. Moreover, the Portuguese #7 broke yet another record tonight, by becoming the first ever Portuguese player to miss a penalty (excluding shootouts) in a major tournament.

But Ronaldo wasn’t solely to blame for the goalless draw, as Austrian goal keeper Robert Almer made numerous saves to deny Portugal’s attempts and keep a clean sheet.

But it was the Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho who was named the man of the match for an impressive display in the middle of the park.

Portugal manager Fernando Santos had the following to say in his post-match interview: “Fair or unfair is a moot point, the only difference in the two matches we’ve played is that against Iceland we scored one and conceded one, here we didn’t score but we didn’t concede either. We had plenty of chances, but we didn’t score. Now we have to think about the next match.

“Iceland wasn’t great, if we had won it that would have been a major step forward. Today we had another very positive match but what we need now is to play the next one and to win it; that will make the team grow. Hungary will be happy to draw against us, they are primed to go through. They will be highly motivated but we will have to break that wall down.”

Meanwhile, Austria coach Marcel Koller remains optimistic about going through to the round of 16, and was quoted as saying: “It was important not to lose this game. Portugal had more chances but we have won a point with a good defensive effort. Normally that’s not our type of game but you have to be flexible in a tournament and adapt to the teams you are playing.

“We are still in the race. We’re in very different place mentally now compared to the last game; now the players are happy and that makes it easier for us. We have a final in the last game, and I hope we can win it.”

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