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Euro 2024 Day 9 recap – Belgium make amends, Portugal flying

Day 9 was the last o ‘all-day’ at the 2024 European Championship, with no more early kick-offs scheduled. And it was a great way to go out, with three entertaining matches.

The final lunchtime game was between Georgia and Czechia who both lost their opening matches. It finished 1-1, with both sides having wonderful chances to take the three points.

Next up was a battle between Portugal and Turkey, which was comfortably won by Roberto Martinez’s men. Samet Akaydin’s comical own goal was the highlight of the game, while Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes were also on target.

The day ended with Belgium bouncing back from their opening-day defeat in style against Romania. Youri Tielemans bagged an early goal with a powerful drive before Kevin De Bruyne got on the scoresheet late on to make it 2-0.

Standout Performer – Kevin De Bruyne

Many people feel that Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ has been and gone.

Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany and Mousa Dembele have retired, while Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Dries Mertens, and Axel Witsel are well into their 30s.

Romelu Lukaku remains very hit-and-miss, and Thibaut Courtois has been left out of the squad.

But with Kevin De Bruyne at his best, they can still beat anyone. The Manchester City man was on top form yesterday, netting his fourth goal for the Red Devils at major tournaments.

Additionally, he can count himself unlucky not to have added an assist to his personal tally. In the first half, he set up Dodi Lukebakio with a brilliant driving run and pass.

After the break, he sent Lukaku clean through to finish, only for the goal to be ruled out due to the tightest of offsides.

Poorest Player – Samet Akaydin

Turkey won their opening match fairly convincingly and were hoping to push on. Up against one of the competition’s leading contenders in Portugal, they knew they were in for a tough test. Things got even harder when Bernardo Silva made it 1-0 in the 21st minute.

The last thing they needed after this setback was for one of their players to gift their opponents a second. Centre-back Samet Akaydin made a complete mess of a simple back-pass, missing goalkeeper Altay Bayindir and finishing into his own net.

Bruno Fernandes made it three from Cristiano Ronaldo’s unselfish square ball after the break, condemning Turkey to a heavy defeat.

They go into their final match against Czechia knowing that a defeat could condemn them to a group-stage exit.

Talking Point – Cristiano Ronaldo again

Just like last time – and for much of the last 20 years – Cristiano Ronaldo is at the centre of attention. After his fixture against Czechia, we asked whether he had done enough to justify his place in the starting XI.

Well, he answered that question with another encouraging performance. Once again, he was unable to add to his personal collection of 895 (!) career goals, but he was a key part of a brilliant team display.

The veteran looked a lot sharper than before. He was able to get into dangerous areas, linked up well, was capable of beating a man, and even got himself an assist for his side’s third.

If Ronaldo can maintain this level of performance, the goals will inevitably come. And if they do, Portugal have a real chance at lifting the trophy.

Up Next

The final round of group stage fixtures is on the way. Later today, one more team will be eliminated, and at least one more will have booked their place in the knockout rounds.

Barring a minor miracle, Switzerland will progress from the group stage. They could finish top of the group if they beat hosts Germany – anything less will likely leave them in second place.

Scotland and Hungary are also fighting for a knockout place. The Magyars know that they will be eliminated with anything less than three points.

Steve Clarke’s side could go through with just a draw, although they will need several other results to go their way.

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