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Belgium thrashes Hungary and advances to Euro quarterfinals

Belgium's defender Toby Alderweireld celebrates his goal during

Belgium's defender Toby Alderweireld celebrates his goal during a Euro 2016 round of 16 football match between Hungary and Belgium at Stade Municipal in Toulouse, France, Sunday, June 26, 2016. Credit: Getty Images/ REMY GABALDA

A superb performance by Eden Hazard guided Belgium to a 4-0 victory over Hungary on Sunday and a place in the European Championship quarterfinals.

Center back Toby Alderweireld opened the scoring with a header in the 10th minute after poor marking by the Hungary defense. But Belgium had to wait until the closing stages before cruising to a convincing victory at the Stadium de Toulouse, thanks to some moments of brilliance from Hazard.

The Chelsea playmaker surged past a group of Hungary defenders on the left side before supplying a perfect low cross for substitute Michy Batshuayi to steer home in the 78th minute, just two minutes after coming on.

Hazard followed up almost immediately with a spectacular solo goal, breaking down the left on another counterattack before cutting inside, skipping past three Hungary defenders and curling a shot into the bottom right corner.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco scored his team’s fourth in added time as Belgium lined up a quarterfinal against Wales on Friday in Lille.

“It was a great match,” Hazard said. “Beyond my goal, it was a great collective performance. We created a lot of chances and finished enough of them.”

Hungary paid for an early defensive lapse that left its players chasing the game and exposed to Belgium’s attacks on the break.

Romelu Lukaku and Alderweireld both broke away from the Hungary defense and were left unmarked when Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick from the left swerved in. Lukaku was inches away from making contact but Alderweireld jumped at the same time to power the ball home.

Despite the early blow, Hungary defended robustly and looked dangerous at times.

But Belgium stretched Hungary’s defense on numerous occasions with its creative attacking play, with Hazard and De Bruyne pulling the strings.

De Bruyne hit the crossbar with a free kick in the 35th minute and was lively throughout the match, only to be denied several times by Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly.

Hungary had its chances to equalize, with captain Balazs Dzsudzsak going close with a shot that flew just wide of the post. Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois nearly gifted Hungary a goal when he slipped while trying to control a back pass in the first half. Luckily for the Chelsea player, it trickled out for a corner.

Hungary’s players had no such luck in the closing stages, as Hazard put the match beyond their reach.

New York Sports