Ronaldo's late winner sends Portuguese past Czech and through to semis.
Czech Republic 0-1 Portugal
National Stadium, Warsaw
Thursday 21 June 2012
Portugal have become the first team to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2012 after the outstanding Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Czech Republic in Warsaw.
Ronaldo, who also hit the woodwork twice, produced a vintage show in the Polish capital and rounded it off with a stunning diving header from a Joao Moutinho cross in the 79th minute to send his team into the last four.
The game came eight years after Ronaldo burst onto the scene as a teenager at Euro 2004, guiding his team to the Final in Lisbon, and he more than justified his billing as one of the potential stars of this tournament.
In an extremely tight first-half the Czechs started strongly but Portugal probably created the better chances and Ronaldo was always to the fore.
Having scored twice in Portugal's crucial victory over Holland he produced a moment of true class in the 45th minute when he turned stunningly on a Raul Meireles long ball, beat his marker and shot a right-foot effort that beat Petr Cech but struck his near post.
The woodwork kept out Ronaldo again after the break as Portugal stormed forward; this time his 20-yard free-kick beating Cech but bouncing to safety off his left-hand post with Ronaldo looking to the skies in despair.
Hugo Almeida also had a goal ruled correctly offside after he headed home a Nani cross - and Moutinho then saw a well-struck effort superbly tipped over the bar by Cech.
It had to go Portugal's way eventually; and it did in the 79th minute when Ronaldo finally got his goal.
Nani set Moutinho free down the right and his cross was spectacularly headed home by the diving Ronaldo, the ball thudding into the ground before bouncing over Cech's grasp and into the net for a deserved 1-0 victory.
Cech, Gebre Selassie, Sivok, Kadlec, Limbersky, Plasil, Hubschman (Pekhart 86), Pilar, Darida (Rezek 61), Jiracek, Baros.
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Drobny, Suchy Hubnik, Necid, Rosicky, Petrzela, Rajtoral, Kolar, Lafata.
Coach: Michal Bilek
Rui Patricio, Jaao Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Fabio Contrao, Meireles (Rolando 88), Veloso, Moutinho, Nani (Custodio 84) Postiga (Almeida 39), Ronaldo. Subs not used: Eduardo, Beto, Quaresma, Oliveira, Costa Micael, Varela, Lopes, Viana
Coach: Paulo Bento
Howard Webb (England)