Belgium showed just what they can do with a 4-0 victory over Hungary, including an Eden Hazard stunner, to set up a quarter-final against Wales.
The Red Devils brought Dries Mertens into the starting XI for Yannick Carrasco, while Mousa Dembele was injured. Hungary were surprise group winners ahead of Iceland and Portugal, scoring six goals in three games, but Attila Fiolka was ruled out by an ankle problem. Laszlo Kleinheiser pulled out during the warm-up, making way for Adam Pinter.
This was their first competitive meeting since a 1-1 draw in the 1982 World Cup group phase.
Belgium had several shots early doors and broke through when a Kevin De Bruyne free kick found the head of Toby Alderweireld from six yards, totally unmarked. It was the defender’s second goal for his country after one in November 2013.
Romelu Lukaku sent De Bruyne clear on the counter and his angled drive was parried by the legs of Gabor Kiraly. However, Thibaut Courtois was almost royally embarrassed when slipping on a back-pass, glad to see it roll behind him for a corner and not an own goal.
Balazs Dzsudzsak forced a save, but De Bruyne’s free kick had to be acrobatically fingertipped on to the crossbar by 40-year-old Kiraly.
It was still only 1-0 and Gergo Lovrencsics skimmed the woodwork with a screamer from distance, then Dzsudzsak’s daisy-cutter was inches wide.
Napoli winger Mertens was somehow denied by Kiraly from point-blank range and within 30 seconds of the restart Eden Hazard’s solo strike was palmed out of the near top corner.
Hungary were more determined in the second half and Adam Szalai’s header was deflected for a corner, then Courtois flew to push a deflected Pinter snapshot over the bar.
A set play fell to Roland Juhasz, whose low volley flashed inches past the far post. Thomas Vermaelen was booked and will be suspended for the quarter-final against Wales.
Juventus transfer target Batshuayi came off the bench and scored with practically his first touch, as the offside trap failed miserably on a corner and he tapped in a Hazard low cross.
Moments later Hungary poured forward and were caught out on the counter, as Hazard cut in from the left past three players and curled a classy finish into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Hungary would not give in, as Courtois fingertipped a Szalai turn over the bar from close range and parried from Akos Elek, but Belgium grabbed a fourth with a classic Yannick Carrasco counter-attack.
Hungary 0-4 Belgium
Alderweireld 10 (B), Batshuayi 78 (B), Hazard 80 (B), Carrasco 91 (B)
Hungary: Kiraly; Lang, Guzmics, Juhasz (Böde 79), Kadar; Nagy, Gera (Elek 46); Lovrencsics, Pinter (Nikolic 75), Dzsudzsak; Szalai
Belgium: Courtois; Meunier, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Witsel, Nainggolan; Mertens (Carrasco 70), De Bruyne, Hazard (Fellaini 81); R Lukaku (Batshuayi 76)
Ref: Mazic (SRB)
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