Soccer-Belgium coach hails team’s strong mentality after Portugal win

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Euro 2020 - Round of 16 - Belgium v Portugal
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SEVILLE (Reuters) - Belgium coach Roberto Martinez hailed his team’s strong mentality after they ended Portugal’s reign at the European Championship with a 1-0 win in a bruising last-16 encounter in Seville on Sunday.

It was a display, he said, that highlighted not only Belgium’s attacking talent but their ability to defend and tough it out.

"It wasn’t just about how good we can be but how we could adapt to what Portugal do best: They do exactly what they need to win - that’s why they are the current European champions. They know how to take those moments that can hurt you, but I think we had incredible concentration and defended really well,” a beaming Martinez told the post-match news conference.

“We played a really good game in the first half, controlling and scoring a very good goal.”

Belgium went ahead thanks to a long range bullet from Thorgen Hazard.

“But then in the second half, more of the momentum went to Portugal and we had to show an incredible mentality. It was about those aspects of being disciplined, very tactically astute and we never lost concentration.

“There were difficult moments as Portugal tried to get back in the closing minutes, but this result gives me an incredible satisfaction because this is what a winning team needs.

“We all know the talent we have and the good football we can play, but today we showed all the other elements also needed. As a coach I couldn’t be prouder.”

Martinez will, however, have to sweat over injuries during the match to key players Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, who he said would undergo scans on Monday and rest up for the next 48 hours.

He said he had no idea what their chances were of playing on Friday, when Belgium meet Italy in the quarter-final in Munich.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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