Ronaldo on the mark to send the Dutch crashing out of EURO 2012
Portugal 2-1 Netherlands
Sunday 17 June 2012
Netherlands crashed out of Euro 2012 in the group stages with no points in Group B, following a masterclass from Cristiano Ronaldo to set them up a quarter final clash with Czech Republic.
In this most incredible and unpredictable of tournaments, the group of death remained very much alive ahead of kick-off, with all four teams still in with a chance to qualify.
That even included Holland, who began Euro 2012 with two demoralising defeats. But by the end, and despite taking the lead through Rafael van der Vaart, the Dutch were out thanks to Ronaldo’s double.
Bert van Marwijk’s men needed to beat Portugal by two clear goals and hope old enemy Germany did them a favour by beating Denmark in order to reach the last eight.
They started as they meant to go on, with Wesley Sneijder volleying close on three minutes after Arjen Robben’s cross wasn’t dealt with.
And on 11 minutes, they made a breakthrough. Van der Vaart, recalled to the team as captain, swept in a wonderful effort that beat Rui Patricio to give Holland hope.
After that strike, it still meant Holland were out as they needed another, while Portugal also were out.
Ronaldo almost equalised on 15 minutes but his dragged effort just clipped the outside of the post as Portugal responded to their early setback with intent.
Helder Postiga should have responded shortly after but his skewed effort drifted wide, while Ronaldo tested Maarten Stekelenburg with a powerful header.
Ronaldo finally got the better of Stekelenburg and got his first goal of the tournament just before the half-hour mark when he met Pedro Joao Pereira’s pass to slide home.
Ron Vlaar came close to giving Holland the lead again just after the break but his header bounced over, while at the other end Fabio Coentrao forced Stekelenburg into a decent save following a flowing move.
Van Marwijk then signalled his intent by taking off left-back Jetro Willems for attacker Ibrahim Afellay but Holland were soon dead and buried.
A superb attacking move resulted in Nani finding Ronaldo, and he clinically finished off Holland with 15 minutes to spare. He almost completed his hat-trick and deepened Orange gloom, but his effort, aptly at the death of the group of death, hit the post.
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Meireles (Custodio 71), Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Nani (Rolando 86), Postiga (Nelson Oliveira 64), Ronaldo.
Subs not used: Eduardo, Almeida, Quaresma, Ricardo Costa, Ruben Micael, Varela, Miguel Lopes, Hugo Viana, Beto.
Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 28, 73
Netherlands: Stekelenburg, Willems (Afellay 67), Mathijsen, Vlaar, Van Der Wiel, Van der Vaart, Nigel De Jong, Sneijder, van Persie, Robben, Huntelaar.
Subs not used: Vorm, Heitinga, Bouma, Van Bommel, Kuyt, Schaars, Strootman, Luuk De Jong, Narsingh, Boulahrouz, Krul.
Goals: Van der Vaart 11
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)