Portugal in semis; tops Czechs 1-0 on Ronaldo goal
After his powerful header lifted Portugal into the semifinals of
the European Championship, Cristiano Ronaldo looked ahead at the
possibilities, not behind at his achievement.
Ronaldo scored in the 79th minute for a 1-0 victory over the
Czech Republic on Thursday. The Portuguese dominated the action and
Ronaldo hit the post twice, then finally delivered. He headed a
cross by Joao Moutinho straight at the ground and up past the
flailing hands of Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech, who was spectacular
”Expectations are high,” the Real Madrid star said. ”We have
to keep our feet firmly on the ground and take one step at a time.
We have to win the next game. The goal is to get to the
This was Ronaldo’s third goal in two games and it rewarded the
Portuguese for the relentless pressure they applied all match.
”I remember in the last game I hit the post twice, too,”
Ronaldo said. ”But the most important thing is I managed to score
this time, we won and are in the semifinals. Now it is big smiles
and good music.”
Portugal will play Spain or France in the semifinals in Donetsk,
Ukraine, on Wednesday. It is one victory from its second European
Championship final in eight years; the Portuguese lost at home to
Greece in the 2004 title game.
Ronaldo already provided some leadership and two goals to get
past the Netherlands in group play, and his encore Thursday was
”It’s just that Ronaldo is better. He can play with his head,
with both feet,” Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek said. ”That
decided the match.”
His goal finally punished the tactics of the Czechs, who had
parked most of their players in front of Cech for much of the
The Czechs did not have a shot on goal, and only two attempts
during the match. The Euro 2004 runners-up had 20 attempts.
”The Czechs didn’t have a single chance,” Ronaldo said.
The strategy worked for a while. In first-half injury time,
Ronaldo deadened a cross from Raul Meireles on his chest, turned
and with two touches set up a right-foot shot that had Cech beaten
before it crashed against the near post.
In the 49th, Ronaldo again clipped the post on a free kick from
”In the second half, we lost our strength and determination and
they had one chance that decided the match,” Bilek said.
By then, Ronaldo had hit the post four times in two games. When
he finally scored and was mobbed by teammates, he went over to the
TV camera with a beaming smile and offered a victory kiss.
”We have suffered,” Portugal forward Nani said. ”But we
always wanted to win and that’s what we showed. We were superior,
then we scored and we really deserved this result.”
At the final whistle, Ronaldo dropped to his knees with clenched
fists, then rose as Miguel Veloso jumped into his arms in
celebration. For the second match in a row, Ronaldo has dominated
for Portugal. And as a result, Portugal is still in the hunt for
its first major title.
”We had a lot of chances,” Ronaldo said. ”We had a great
unity on the pitch and that is why we have reached our goal.”
The Czechs started without captain Tomas Rosicky, who hadn’t
recovered from an Achilles tendon injury to start in the country’s
most important game since it lost in the Euro 2004 semifinals.