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Euro 2012 - Ronaldo sends Portugal into semi-final
Times have never been so good for Cristiano Ronaldo in a Portuguese national jersey. After yet another dominating performance from the Real Madrid star, Portugal find themselves in the semi-finals of Euro 2012, after downing the Czech Republic 1-0. The victory means the Portuguese will face the winner of Spain vs France, on June 27th, with a spot in the European Championship Final on the line.
Edmonton - June 22, 2012 - Times have never been so good for Cristiano Ronaldo in a Portuguese national jersey. After yet another dominating performance from the Real Madrid star, Portugal find themselves in the semi-finals of Euro 2012. His stunning late second half marker was all that was required in downing a defensive minded Czech Republic 1-0. The victory means the surprising Portuguese will face either France or Spain, on June 27th in Donetsk, with a spot in the European Championship Final on the line.
It was clear from the outset, the Czechs wanted no part of exchanging chances with Ronaldo and company, as they brought the game to a grinding halt with their defence first brand of soccer. While the Portuguese are known for giving up their fair share of chances, the Czechs would have nothing to do with opening things up. A plan that was working to perfection, until late in the first half.
After neatly bringing down a cross from his Madrid teammate, Fabio Coentrao, Ronaldo spun and fired a quick shot on target that cleanly beat Cech along the ground but hit the upright and stayed out. It was the first high quality chance of the evening and it did not come until the second minute of extra time.
The late opportunity finally brought some energy into the match and gave the Portuguese life. They were starting to come and five minutes in, Ronaldo would hit another post and it seemed like it would just be a matter of time before they would break the scoreless deadlock. The twenty-seven year old was starting to find the range and was about to become far too much for the Czech Republic to handle.
While Petr Cech continued to knock ball after ball away, the Chelsea keeper would eventually break in the seventy-ninth minute. Joao Moutinho's cross found its way into the heart of the Czech's penalty area and directly onto the head of a hard charging Ronaldo, who managed to shake off defender Bruno Alves, just long enough to produce the game's opening goal. It was a brilliant header that was pounded into the turf and bounced into the top of the net and past a helpless Cech. A superb finish from one of the finest finishers in the game.
No one would argue that Cristiano Ronaldo's performance in the opening two games of Euro 2012 were disappointing but to his credit, he has been the dominant force on the pitch in Portugal's last two matches. With a likely matchup against Spain and many of his Real Madrid teammates in the semi-final, Cristiano will have to bring his game to whole new level to see his Portugal progress through to the final on July 1st...and don't be surprised if he does exactly that.
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