Euro 2012:Cristiano Ronaldo header sends Portugal to the semi final

Posted: June 21, 2012 in General

The Real Madrid star hit the woodwork with a sublime solo effort in the first half and then again with a free-kick after the break.

But just as it looked like Czech Republic were going to hold out, up popped Ronaldo to head Moutinho’s cross past Petr Cech and send the Portuguese into a last four showdown with either France or Spain.

It was another brilliant individual display from the former Manchester United forward having single-handedly destroyed Holland in Portugal’s final Group B game.

And with Moutinho also firing on all cylinders, Paulo Bento’s men look to peaking at just the right time.

The Czechs actually had the better of the opening stages and other than Moutinho’s tame strike from range, they starved Portugal, and Ronaldo, of any early ball.

They gave the Portuguese a bit of a scare when Vladimir Darida swung in a dangerous cross which was just out of the reach of the stretching Milan Baros.

But it didn’t take long for Ronaldo to come to life and he looked to have been denied by a good Petr Cech save only for ref Howard Webb to blow up for a foul on Michal Kadlec on his way through on goal.

The energetic Czech right-back Theodor Gebre Selassie may have been dreading the task of keeping the Real Madrid ace quiet but he has been an attacking threat this tournament too — seemingly able to run all day like his marathon runner namesake.

And it was his pace that set up another sticky moment for Portugal as he bombed down the right wing and sent in a low dangerous cross which Pepe was just about able to deal with.

At the other end, Ronaldo was now a constant threat and he sent an acrobatic overhead effort wide before firing an ambitious 30-yard free-kick swerving past the left-hand post.

Portugal were dealt a blow as Helder Postiga was forced off with a hamstring injury and replaced by Hugo Almeida.

Nani went looking for a penalty when he went down under pressure from David Limbersky but Webb correctly waved play on.

And Ronaldo nearly scored a magical opener on the stroke of half-time as he brought down Raul Meireles’ long ball in the box with his chest, flicked it past Kadlec before turning and smashing his strike onto the post.

Almeida made a mess of a glorious chance straight after the break, heading well over from 10 yards from Meireles’ cross.

Ronaldo struck the woodwork for a second time with a trademark free-kick, beating the wall and Cech but not the outside of the right post.

He was soon put through again but took his shot early and sliced wide before Nani had a fierce 25-yard shot saved by Cech diving to his right.

Portugal thought they had finally got a deserved lead when Almeida headed in Nani’s cross but it was rightly ruled out for offside.

The Czechs finally got out of their half through Vaclav Pilar who ghosted past three lunging tackles but couldn’t pick out Baros with his cross.

Moutinho forced Cech into a brilliant fingertip save with a 20-yard dipper as Portugal continued to attack and Almeida was guilty of another woeful header from the corner.

Meireles and Nani hit further strikes over the bar but there was only one man who was ever going to get the crucial goal.

Moutinho’s cross from the right was on the money as Ronaldo got past Gebre Selassie with and powered in his header down and past the helpless Cech.

The Czechs needed to respond but couldn’t and Joao Pereira nearly made it two with Cech having to beat the ball away.

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