Cristiano Ronaldo kept shooting at goal, hitting the post twice or just going wide of the goal. Eventually, a brilliant Joao Moutinho cross was met by Ronaldo’s head, to give Portugal a small but very justified 1-0 win over the Czech Republic, advancing to the Semi Finals of Euro 2012.
The Czechs didn’t even try to move the ball the entire match. Long balls, defending, long balls. That was the recipe, while hoping that either Petr Jiracek or Vaclav Pilar will find the net or at least manage to create something. Both of them had about one impressive dribble that created a chance, but at both occasions Milan Baros was too slow with his reaction, not even managing to get a shot off at goal.
The rest? All Portugal. There was no midfield to speak of for the Czechs, who defended with all 10 field players, while Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso pushed Portugal forward. From there, Nani was inaccurate or lacked concentration most of the time. Ronaldo, typical, tried doing everything himself, which was always just a bit short of working.
But as the match drew on, the pressure grew. Hugo Almeida brought his big stature and physical pressure into the Czech box, making it even harder than in the first half. Nani and Meireles had no trouble reaching opportunities, but couldn’t muster a good enough shot to beat Cech in his finest performance in the tournament and for the national team in a long long time.
Ronaldo just might be the player of the tournament so far. Forget about the match vs Germany. Facing Denmark, it was more a case of bad luck than bad play. He was brilliant against the Netherlands and was brilliant once more against the Czech Republic. Gebre Selassie simply couldn’t handle him, also missing him on his marking assignment when Ronaldo slipped through behind him to score the winning goal, putting him as joint-top scorer of the tournament so far with 3 goals.
Now it’s on to the Semi Final, with France and Spain to choose from. Portugal have looked very good in their last two matches, but you have to assume that they’re hoping for a French surprising win on Saturday.