Portugal have beaten the Czech Republic 1-0 in Warsaw to progress to the Semi-Finals of Euro 2012. Cristiano Ronaldo provided the only goal of the game with a header on 78 minutes to put Portugal deservedly in the lead.
Czech manager Michal Bílek vowed before the match to be defensive to avoid a repeat of the 4-1 mauling they received from Russia in the opening game of the tournament, and he certainly remained true to his word with the Czechs figuratively ‘parking the bus’ against Portugal.
The Czech Republic set out for the game to defend and try to hit Portugal on the counter-attack; a tactic which almost came off, but ultimately it was Ronaldo’s quality which proved the difference. The Czech team didn’t have the quality up front to pose a real threat on the break, with Milan Baros looking a shadow of his former self.
The two wingmen who were supposed to provide the danger for the Czechs were kept busy defending against Coentrao and Ronaldo on the right and Pereira and Nani on the left; and so weren’t as effective going forward. It was the Portugese captain which caused most grief to the Czechs, with attacking winger Petr Jiracek having to play as a second fullback at times to stop him.
Ronaldo was largely absent In the first half, but the Real Madrid forward upped his game in the second half and followed on from scoring twice in a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in the group stages as he arrived late in the box to head into the ground and over goalkeeper Petr Cech. This after a peach of a cross from Joao Moutinho which put the chance on a plate for Ronaldo to finish. He has now netted 10 goals from qualifying and these finals in dragging his country to the last four.
Portugal could have won by three or four goals, but for the diligence of the Czech defenders, some poor finishing and agile goalkeeping by Petr Cech. The Czechs were also helped by a fair dose of luck, as Ronaldo failed to score on about five occasions before eventually heading Portugal in front.
Portugal came up with 20 efforts at goal with Ronaldo twice hitting the post before he scored. He turned and smashed a shot against Cech’s left-hand post late in the first period while another free-kick from 30 yards was sent spinning beyond Cech only to fly wide from the outside of a post.
Ronaldo saw an overhead kick fly wide on 30 minutes before substitute Hugo Almeida headed over a couple of minutes after half-time to illustrate how the second half was going to work out for the Czechs.
Cech made fine stops from Nani and Moutinho with less than 30 minutes left with Nani seeing a shot deflect over the bar. Hugo Almeida managed to score before the Ronaldo goal came, but was rightly adjudged to be offside by assistant referee Mike Malarkey.
Pereira had a shot at goal nudged wide by Cech with eight minutes left, but the 1-0 score-line seemed a just result, Portugal were the better team, but the Czech’s defence deserved credit for keeping the score so low against better quality opposition.
Portugal will now face world and European champions Spain or France for a place in the final. They will feel like they have a real chance to claim the trophy with Ronaldo looking lethal and replicating the level of form that he shows for Real Madrid; however will face the toughest of opposition in the semi-finals.
- 30 Sexiest WAGs Of 2012
- 50 Sexiest Women You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
- 10 Most Paused Movie Moments
- Football’s Worst Ever Cheating Divers
- 10 Great Footballers Who Made Terrible Managers
- 100 Greatest Premier League Players Of All Time
- 50 Great Footballers Who Ruled 2012
- 15 Worst Ever Premier League Signings