Ronaldo knocks out the Czechs

Portugal into the semi-finals after dominant display

Last Updated: June 21, 2012 9:47pm

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Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero as his late header gave Portugal a deserved 1-0 win over the Czech Republic and sent his side into the semi-finals of Euro 2012.
Portugal were the better side throughout but were made to work for the win by a stubborn Czech side content to play on the counter-attack.
After countless squandered opportunities, good work from Joao Moutinho eventually led to the breakthrough.
His curling cross in the 79th minute found the head of Ronaldo, whose run had eluded Theodor Gebre Selassie in the box, and the ball flew past Petr Cech.
It was unfortunate for the Czechs that Ronaldo would play such a central figure in their defeat as they appeared to have done a good job of stifling him in the early stages.
Gebre-Selassie kept a close eye on the Real Madrid man and had some joy performing a man-to-man marking role.
But the Portuguese forward did manage to engineer more space in the final third towards the end of the first-half and he showed great skill to wriggle free only to hit Cech's near post.
Ronaldo hit the woodwork again after the break from a drilled free-kick as he emerged as the key figure in the game.


By that point Hugo Almeida, a first-half substitute for the injured Helder Postiga, had seen a headed effort rightly ruled out for offside as Portugal cranked up the pressure.
The Czech threat was limited to occasional forays into the Portugal half, with Vaclav Pilar and Petr Jiracek an intermittent menace.
Paulo Bento's side were utterly dominant but their wastefulness was threatening to prove costly as Nani in particular was guilty of poor decision-making around the Czech goal.
But just as it looked like Michal Bilek's might force the contest into extra-time, Joao Moutinho curled cross found Portugal's main man in the box and his downward header bounced past Cech.
It was no more than Portugal deserved and no more than Ronaldo deserved on a night in which he took one step nearer to an unlikely European Championship success that would surely be the highlight of his remarkable career.
More to follow...
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