Match-winner Kevin Mirallas said Belgium played "a great game" after beating Israel 1-0 with ten men to move within touching distance of the semi-finals.
Mirallas rewarded Belgium's resilience with a winner eight minutes from time at the Abe Lenstra Stadium, the Diablotins having been a man down since the 18th minute when Marouane Fellaini was sent off. The 19-year-old LOSC Lille Métropole man had already hit the post before he struck late on, but was eager to share his Carlsberg Man of the Match award with his team-mates.
"I'm the man of the match thanks to the goal I've scored, but I have to thank my team for it because they have played a great game," he said. "Perhaps it was a less attractive game to watch than the one on Sunday [when Belgium drew 0-0 against Portugal in their Group A opener] but we have done extremely well playing with only ten men. Victories like that are simply fantastic."
Striking the woodwork did not deter Mirallas, as he continued to harry the Israel defence throughout. "When I hit the post, I personally thought I would get more chances," he said. "Maybe some of us thought the end of the game would be very difficult, but everyone kept focused on the match. Even when we were down to ten men we carried on pushing and we were rewarded with a nice goal."
With Portugal losing 2-1 against the Netherlands in Wednesday's other game, Belgium can now be sure of a place in the last four of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship - and the Olympics in Beijing - provided they avoid defeat against the hosts and holders, who are already through to the semi-finals, in front of a sell-out crowd in Heerenveen on Saturday.
"Now we have four points which puts us in a good position," Mirallas said. "I really hope we will put in another great performance on Saturday and come back home with one or three points. We will do everything to win it. If we draw it will be good and if we win it, even better. The most important thing is to qualify to the second phase."
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