With both sides facing a daunting route to UEFA Euro 2020 glory, it was Belgium who emerged to reach a quarter-final tie against in-form Italy thanks to Thorgan Hazard’s long-range strike.
It was a goal that deserved to settle a game of few chances, although De Bruyne’s substitution early in the second half will concern Roberto Martinez, as will Eden Hazard’s departure late in the match.
Portugal could not capitalize and paid the price for a third-placed Group F finish that condemned them to this side of the draw. At odds with a tense finale, opportunities were few and far between prior to Belgium’s spectacular 42nd-minute opener.
Belgium to face Italy Next
Portugal’s Diogo Jota dragged wide and Thibaut Courtois parried a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick – his first sight at a record-breaking 110th international goal – before Thorgan Hazard blasted beyond Rui Patricio from 25 yards, the ball fading away from a flailing goalkeeper.
Joao Palhinha’s challenge on De Bruyne in the 45th minute saw the Belgium midfielder substituted shortly after the restart, but Portugal did not respond until the introduction of Bruno Fernandes and tournament debutant Joao Felix.
Ronaldo teed up Jota to flash a strike over and Joao Felix got up to meet Renato Sanches’ cross, only to head into Courtois’ arms.
An ill-tempered affair threatened to tick by without Portugal seriously threatening an equalizer, but Ruben Dias headed straight at Courtois and Raphael Guerreiro struck the post, agonizingly close to forcing extra time.
Belgium will face Italy, who beat Austria 2-1 on Saturday, in Munich on July 2. The Italians are unbeaten in their last 31 matches.