Failure. It’s a harsh, ruthless word.
In many ways, Portugal didn’t fail in their Euro 2020 last 16 showdown with the world’s number one ranked side, Belgium.
They held the attack of their much-vaunted opponents at arm’s length for the most part of 95-plus minutes.
They didn’t allow any shots of note on Rui Patricio’s goal from inside the penalty area, and had 29 shots to the Red Devils’ six.
They were the better side on a dire pitch in Seville and created the better chances, as an xG scoreline of 1.56 to 0.23 attests.
But the only scoreline that mattered meant it was a night of non-fulfilment for the European champions at the Estadio La Cartuja, as Thorgan Hazard’s long-range effort, which deceived Patricio, settled the affair and turned their crown to dust.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal looks dejected following defeat
Patricio, the Wolves ‘keeper likely heading to link up with Jose Mourinho at Roma this summer, took one step to his right, shifted his weight and couldn’t respond quick enough as Hazard’s strike veered in the air to his left, beyond him into the net.
In elite level sport, one step the wrong way is sometimes all that’s required to make the difference.
In 2016, it was enough to ensure Eder’s extra-time effort beat Hugo Lloris and that Portugal became kings of Europe. This time, it was enough to ensure their exit.