Game in a sentence
It was Ronaldo’s night. The best player at these championships ensured his last two games are now a distant memory as he scored two goals to put Portugal in the quarter finals against the Czech Republic.
- It started as an open game in which the Dutch threatened to blow open but as Portugal grew into the match their quality shone through and nobody was brighter than Cristiano Ronaldo himself. The game was a victory for Portugal, Ronaldo and all of those who wanted to put an end to the nonsense that he wasn’t a big game player.
- All eyes were on the Dutch teamsheet once it was released and Rafael van der Vaart did indeed finally get his first start and surprisingly was handed the captain’s arm band just a few days after saying his manager had his favourites. Inmates running the asylum or a master touch by coach Bert Van Marwijk?
- It appeared to be the latter when the Tottenham man smashed the Dutch into the lead inside the first 11 minutes, cutting in on his left and finding the far corner of Rui Patricio’s goal.
- Portugal’s response was superb. They never panicked, led by their outstanding midfield trio of Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso who kept their shape, controlled the ball and frustrated the Dutch playmakers.
- Cristiano Ronaldo had a quite magnificent first half. He was denied twice by the outstanding Maarten Stekelenburg, one of few Dutch players who had a decent tournament, but eventually got on the scoresheet when he timed his run perfectally to meet Joao Pereira’s intelligent pass before calmly slotting the ball into the net.
- It was a dreadful goal to concede for Netherlands. Jetro Willems gave the ball away in his own half, the Dutch failed to close down Portugal, allowing them far too much space to pick passes with ease before Pereira made a run inside and brilliantly found Ronaldo.
- Pereira had an excellent game, showing fantastic energy and desire to get down the right side while handling anything thrown his way defensively.
- The second half saw more changes from the Dutch with Arjen Robben moving to the left, Wesley Sneijder to the centre and Robin Van Persie in the middle behind Klaas Jan Huntelaar. It simply didn’t matter. They were equally ineffective.
- Portugal grew into the second half, knowing that 1-1 would have seen them through as the Danes were tying the Germans, and countered at will. Eventually they scored again when Nani put a ball across to Ronaldo who took a touch before smashing it past the helpless Stekelenburg. By this point the Dutch had removed Willems for Ibrahim Affelay and were going for it, but it was still hard to feel sorry for them.
- This Portugal team were the only team on show on this night in Kharkiv and that is a real credit to what Paulo Bento has assembled. Their undisputed best player needs to be on his game for them to do damage but it is clear his support cast is more than capable as well. The midfield three are inventive when they need to be and industrious when called upon. Nani is lively, tracks back when needed and is really thriving at a tournament while their back four are a tough unit. They will be huge favourites to beat the Czechs on Thursday and after that a semi final against winner of group C or runner up in group D awaits. We thought all along if they could get through this group they could go far and once again they’ve done it. They have still not failed to get out of the group stages when qualifying for these championships.
- The Dutch go home in disgrace and their coach will surely be fired. He tried to change the personnel numerous times but they remained a bunch of individuals who never came together. Sure, they were poor defensively but its the likes of Robben, Van Persie and Van Bommel who should be the fall guys. They were all just a little bit more pathetic than the other players wearing orange. You will notice I didn’t use the word team-mates. It appears none of them really are mates at all.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Joao Moutinho
- Joao Periera
Six Super Stats
- Portugal is the only country that has taken part in at least one group phase at the European Championships and has never crashed out in the group phase.
- This is the first time that Netherlands lost all group matches at a major tournament.
- For the first time since 1990 Netherlands lost 3 straight matches, when they lost to West Germany (2-1, World Cup), Italy (1-0, friendly) and Portugal (1-0, ECh qualifier).
- Cristiano Ronaldo became the 5th player to score in at least 5 major tournaments (ECh & WC). The only player that scored at more major tournaments (ECh & WC) is Jürgen Klinsmann: 6. The other players that scored at 5 tournaments are Thierry Henry, Rudi Völler and Henrik Larsson.
- Ronaldo joined Nuno Gomes, Jürgen Klinsmann, Hélder Postiga, Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Vladimir Smicer as the only players who have scored on 3 different European Championships.
- Cristiano Ronaldo became the first Portuguese player to score at 5 major tournaments. He also scored at Euro 2004 & 2008 and WC 2006 & 2010.
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