No record for Ronaldo as Portugal come up short at Euro 2020


The 36-year-old could not muster a moment of magic for his country as their European Championship defence was ended by Belgium in the last 16

Match statistics: Belgium 1-0 Portugal


Sleeves rolled up and dropping deep into midfield, it was clear during the second half in Seville that Cristiano Ronaldo meant business.


He had fed off scraps during the opening 45 minutes of Portugal's heavyweight last-16 clash against Belgium, and with the defending champions 1-0 down and facing elimination, the Seleccao captain had had enough of waiting for his team-mates to create something for him.


All thoughts of this being a potentially record-breaking night had gone. For all Ronaldo is labelled as an egotist who puts his own achievements ahead of those of the team, when playing for his country at major tournaments, only winning matters to the 36-year-old star.


Despite some flashes, though, he could not conjure the old magic that led him to become one of the greatest players the world has ever seen. Portugal's defence of their title is over, and so might be Ronaldo's European Championship career.


We should not, of course, rule out a 39-year-old Ronaldo making it to Germany in 2024. Nothing should ever be ruled out when it comes to Ronaldo.


And given the relative whimper with which Portugal bowed out here, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner may well fancy one last shot at continental glory, particularly if he fails in his quest for a World Cup winners' medal at Qatar 2022.


For now, though, Ronaldo and his Portugal team-mates will reflect on a night when, despite the quality of the players in the Belgium team, the game was there for them to win.


Despite this being a night where Ronaldo was sharing a pitch with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, this was a match that lacked in quality and ended up being defined as much by its stop-start nature as tempers flared as anything else.


The one true bit of quality came from Belgium three minutes before half-time, as first Lukaku showed superb strength to hold the ball up under pressure from Ruben Dias before the ball was recycled to Thorgan Hazard around 25 yards from goal.


The Borussia Dortmund winger's effort dipped and swerved, but Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio will likely reflect on it being a shot that nestled into the middle of his goal, rather than in either corner.


Hazard's goal lit up a first 45 minutes that otherwise was poor at best, with only some strong runs through midfield from Renato Sanches and a solid save from Thibaut Courtois to deny Ronaldo from a free-kick enough to bring the small crowd at Estadio La Cartuja to life.


The game clearly needed a goal as both sides largely sat back, but the chances of the quality being improved after the half-time were hit somewhat by the sight of De Bruyne hobbling off just 90 seconds after the break having been scythed down by Joao Palhinha in first-half stoppage time.


His potential absence, as well as that of Eden Hazard, who limped off clutching his hamstring late on, will be a concern for Roberto Martinez ahead of Friday's quarter-final with Italy, but he will be proud of how his team held out under increasing Portuguese pressure.


Ronaldo dropping deeper and then moving out wide allowed space for others to try their luck, but they could not find a way through despite a frantic final 10 minutes or so.


Diogo Jota sliced a shot over the bar when well placed, Courtois stood firm to palm away a point-blank header from Dias before Raphael Guerreiro hit the post from the edge of the penalty area.


Joao Felix, introduced from the bench for his first appearance of the tournament, spurned the final opportunity in stoppage-time as he fired wide when well placed.


Perhaps Portugal will reflect on their final group game with France when, with the score 2-2 entering five minutes of injury time and Germany's game with Hungary over, they chose to sit back rather than go for the win.


A defeat would not have changed their destiny, but going for the victory could have rewarded them with a last-16 meeting with Switzerland, rather than having to face a Belgium side whose 'Golden Generation' are as hungry for success as Ronaldo has ever been.


It is the Red Devils who march on then, with Ronaldo able only to slump towards the turf at full-time and slam his captain's armband down in front of him.


The record for most international goals by a male player will have to wait, his chance to surpass Ali Daei on the biggest stage gone. Doing so in World Cup qualifiers in September is unlikely to have quite the same impact as it would have done this summer.


And though he could still earn himself a Golden Boot from this tournament as he departs as its top goalscorer with five, he will not be getting his hands on the biggest prize this time around.


At his first European Championship, Ronaldo ended the tournament in tears as Portugal were beaten in the final by Greece.


There was not the same emotion at what could prove to be his last, but that does not mean he will be any less disappointed with the outcome.


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