Ronaldo does the business
Cristiano Ronaldo struck eleven minutes before the end of a one sided quarter-final to ensure Portugal became the first team to reach the last four. The Real Madrid star, man-of-the-match by a distance, also hit the woodwork in each half before capping a brilliant display with the winning, headed, goal. Such was the Portuguese dominance, the margin of victory would have been far greater but for an outstanding performance by the only Czech player to shine, goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Aside from a lively opening quarter of an hour, the Czech Republic – spanked 4-1 by Russia in their opening Group A game – soon faded and thereafter rarely threatened as Portugal took control. Ronaldo, well supported by Raul Meireles and the hard working Joao Moutinho, chose this match to demonstrate his sublime skills and, at times, the beleaguered Czech defence seemed to have no answers. In one outrageous piece of skill, Ronaldo controlled a long Meireles ball on his chest, turned a bemused looking Michal Kadlec and fired a shot against the base of a post.
Helder Postiga, a name well known to Tottenham fans for not actually being very good, was stretchered off just before the break with a hamstring injury, a setback that barely troubled Portugal who continued to threaten. Hugo Almeida, on in place of the unlucky Postiga, squandered a good opportunity early in the second half by heading a Meireles cross over when it seemed easier to score. The same player thought he had redeemed himself a short time later by heading in a Nani cross, only to be disappointed by a correctly called offside decision.
With time running out and the possibility of extra-time or, worse still for Portugal, a Czech winner on the break, Ronaldo finally made the long overdue breakthrough. Moutinho’s right wing cross was inch perfect for his captain who surged past Gebre Selassie to send a powerful header down and beyond Cech. Portugal will now meet the winners of Saturdays encounter between France and Spain, playing this well they might be in the mood to spring a surprise.