Portugal will not defend their status as European champions this summer.
Having limped and laboured their way through the ‘Group of Death’ with France, Germany and Hungary, the Selecao’s Euro 2020 journey came to a premature end on Sunday evening.
Truth be told, Belgium were many people’s favourites to emerge victorious from the clash in Seville, but Portugal weren’t willing to surrender their trophy without a fight.
Having fallen 1-0 down to Thorgan Hazard’s rasping first-half strike, Fernando Santo’s men threw the kitchen sink at their opponents in the desperate search of an equaliser in the dying moments.
Belgium vs Portugal Match Reaction | Euro 2020 (Football Terrace)
Chances go a-begging
But with Thibaut Courtois and the post standing firm against all of Portugal’s attempts, the game came to a close with Cristiano Ronaldo throwing his captain’s armband to the floor in frustration.
However, things could have been oh-so different in a world where Joao Felix managed to – at the very least – ensure that Portugal’s final chance of the game was on target.
Having replaced Joao Moutinho on 56 minutes, Felix was introduced to provide another goal threat for Portugal, but could only scuff an effort wide when he was presented with a chance at the death.
Keane slams Felix
It was a sorry end to Portugal’s tournament and one that simply couldn’t be excused by Manchester United legend and ITV Sport pundit Roy Keane who proceeded to deliver a scathing assessment.
According to the Metro, Keane ranted to footage of Felix’s miss: “I get really annoyed with it, particularly when they’re quality players.
“There’s no excuse for it, seeing players leaning back and just missing the target, at least test the goalkeeper, these are top players no getting away from that.
“Felix, when he came on, that guy’s an imposter, he’s an imposter.
“He comes on, your country needs you… hit the target! What was he? £100m? If I was Ronaldo I’d certainly be going after him in the dressing room. Shocking. Felix and Fernandes were driving me crazy.”
A harsh criticism?
Steady on, Roy. While there’s no denying that Felix should have done better in the closing stages, it’s pretty hard to justify laying quite that much blame at the feet of a 21-year-old substitute.
Yes, Felix’s whopping transfer fee at Atletico Madrid inevitability opens him up to criticism but let’s face it here, we could easily see Ronaldo or Diogo Jota missing that sort of chance as well.
That being said, you certainly understand the frustration in not even hitting the target when there are only a few seconds left on the clock, even in the desperate hope of forcing a goalkeeping error.
But those are fine margins that decide European champions and with the passing short of a so-called ‘imposter’, the kings of the continent abdicated and a new monarch waits to be crowned.