Ronaldo powers Portugal into semi-finals
Ronaldo powers Portugal into semi-finals avatar

Cristiano Ronaldo tore the Czech Republic apart in a one-man show to seal a place for Portugal in the semi-finals of Euro 2012.

The Czech defence struggles unsuccessfully to contain Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star scored the goal that took his team into the semi-finals. (Getty Images)

In a performance that showed why he is regarded by many as the best player in the world, Ronaldo hit the woodwork twice before, in the 78th minute, latching on to the end of a fine cross, hammering the ball into the ground, bouncing it up past the Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech. It was a goal fitting of the performance of the magical Portuguese super-star.

The Czech’s failed to produce a single shot on target, but they must get credit for a stout defensive job, keeping them in the game until the end.

Portugal will now face Spain or France for a place in the final. The Portuguese have an odd record – they’re the only country always to have advanced from group play, but yet have never won a major international event.  With Ronaldo getting stronger and better with each game the last statistic could well change.

The Real Madrid forward was slow to ignite in this event, being fairly quiet in the opening game against Germany and looked disinterested in the second against Denmark. However  in the do-or-die clash against the Netherlands he exploded into action with two shots that careened off the woodwork and two deadly strikes that sunk the Dutch. In all he had 12 shots on goal and Holland had no answer for his mastery.

The quarter-final clash in Warsaw, Poland, opened with the Czech Republic probing and pushing for an early lead, but after 15 minutes Ronaldo broke free of the shackles of the Czech defense, roaming at will and igniting his Portuguese team.

He was unlucky to be pulled up by the referee after weaving his way through the Czech defense, but followed up with a moment of pure skill,  controlling Raul Meireles’s long pass on his chest, turning past a defender effortlessly and thumping a shot past the keeper but off the post.

He hit the post again early in the second half with a 30-yard free-kick that dipped around the Czech wall. It was the fourth time he hit the woodwork in just two games.

But the breakthrough came 12 minutes from time when Joao Moutinho broke down the right to send over a cross that Ronaldo met.  It was his 66th goal for club and country in an incredible season

 

 

About Gavin Owen-Thomas

Gavin's a former journalist who worked in both newspapers and television media while also coaching at both youth and professional level. Born in Namibia, he grew up in South Africa before moving to England and then on to the United States, arriving in 1978. Gavin started playing as soon as he was old enough to kick a ball, and like every youngster he dreamed of playing, fame and glory. Oh, well.... But he does have a USSF A Coaching license, and took his UEFA A License in Wales. GotSoccer is a play on his initials. He launched the website in 1996, and for the first few years it was well-known for its soccer forum. In 2003 Gavin commissioned programmer Aaron Wilmoth to build a scheduling program based on a design he drew on the back of a restaurant napkin, and GotSoccer as we know it today was born.
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