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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Portugal Are The First Side To Advance

Portugal go through over Czech Republic
Portugal will face the winner of Spain vs. France in the semi-finals of EURO 2012 after they grabbed a late and narrow 1-0 victory against the resilient Czech Republic in the quarter final match in Warsaw, Poland.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his third goal of the tournament, and by far the most crucial, in the 80th minute of the match as both coaches began to contemplate tactical changes for overtime. The two sides had been evenly matched in the first half, but as the second half went underway the Portuguese attack became too much for them to contain.
The Czech's put on a strong performance in the first half, using their individual defensive brilliance to keep Cristiano Ronaldo and his fellow strike force at bay and to give the Chelsea keeper Petr Cech a relatively quiet opening forty five. He was forced to make a few saves in the first half but much of the possession was held in the midfield. Portugal played a very attacking style, using their dominant attacking players to their full advantage. Cristiano Ronaldo found his way around the Czech defenders on several occasions but his efforts were wide of the goal or stopped with some brilliant goalkeeping from Petr Cech, most notably his dramatic save just before the half that was a demonstration of some admirable reflexes. Portugal's center forward Helder Postiga was carried off on a stretcher after suffering from an apparent hamstring injury and was replaced by the young Hugo Almeida in the 40th minute. Almeida did well to cause problems for the Czech defense up front but their primary concern was still the tricks, skills and penetrating runs of the Portuguese captain, Ronaldo. In the early part of the half, Czech Republic had several good chances, forcing corner kicks from the Portuguese defense and some tracking back by Ronaldo and Nani, who are used to spending a majority of their time in the oppositions half of the pitch. Patricio did well to keep the ball out of the back of his net, but the Portuguese did not put on the dominant performance in the first half that many people, especially the Portugal fans, expected.
In the second half, Portugal came out swinging. They immediately pushed the Czech's deep into their own half, applying a steady flow of pressure down the wings and through the midfield. Nani sent in several crosses from the wing but the Czech's did well on the wings to keep him contained while Ronaldo continued to lurk dangerously in the box and the midfield. As the legs began to tire, Portugal started to resort to tactical fouling while the Czech's maintained their level-headed defending. In the 59th minute, Nani's goal was rightfully disallowed as the English referee team determined he was offside. Portugal finally found the breakthrough in the 80th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo rose to head the ball past Petr Cech and to secure the dramatic and late win for the Portuguese.

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