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21 June 2012
• Stadion Narodowy, Warszawa
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 55590
Cristiano Ronaldo 79'
90' + 4'
And that's the match! It wasn't pretty, and there were quite a few missed chances, but Portugal are the first country in the Euro 2012 semi-finals! Cristiano Ronaldo made the difference tonight as the Czech Republic go bowing out of the tournament. I'm Julian De Martinis and I'd like to thank you for joining me here tonight! Stick around Goal.com for complete post-match coverage, including the coaches' and players' reactions!
90' + 3'
A very late corner for the Czechs and even Cech is in the box for this! It's played awfully - very deep with nearly all the players high in the box - and as Portugal counter with no goalie in the box, the players hesitate and lose possession!
90' + 2'
The Czecs have a rare possession, but lose the ball in midfield and see Almeida narrowly get flagged offside as Portugal quickly counter.
Yellow Card David Limbersky
Portugal are using their free-kicks and throw-ins very conservatively, trying to keep possession above all else. The fourth official has just indicated that there will be four minutes of added time.
Veloso blasts one over the bar. It looks more likely that Portugal will score a second before the Czech Republic gets their first at this rate!
Meireles off now for Rolando as Bento looks to shore up his team for the final few minutes here.
Ronaldo goes down in the box under a challenge from Selassie and with Webb right behind him, the referee decides not to call for a penalty!
As Hubschman comes off for Pekhart, Goal.com's Victor offers his analysis of how Portugal finally scored: "Until then it had been last ditch defending from the Czechs at times, while Portugal just couldn’t find the final ball until Moutinho’s great cross for the goal. Portugal’s build-up play had been too slow at times. It was a couple of quick passes and good movement which finally opened them up."
Free-kick for Portugal now in a very deep area. The Czechs simply cannot get a grip on the ball at the moment, and Portugal play it short to keep possession and not risk a counter-attack.
Nani off for Custodio now, as Portugal have little more than five minutes plus stoppage time to hold onto their lead and book a ticket to the semi-finals!
Pereira nearly doubles Portugal's lead after an excellently taken strike on a drive into the box, but Cech dives perfectly to his left to parry the shot!
Greg Stobart reports that the Portuguese fans are unsurprisingly elated: "A small section of Portugal support way over to my right go absolutely berserk after that Cristiano Ronaldo opener, as do the entire Portugal bench. That goal was a long time coming given the dominance of Paulo Bento's side in the second-half and the identity of the goalscorer was no surprise whatsoever."
Assist Joao Moutinho
Goal Cristiano Ronaldo
GOALLLL RONALDO! AND HE'S SURELY A CONTENDER FOR PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT SO FAR! It was an absolutely stunning header to beat Cech, after racing ahead of Alves to get on the end of Moutinho's cross!!!! He smashed that into the ground and watched it rifle into the roof of the net, leaving Cech with no chance!!! 1-0 to Portugal!
Goal.com's Mark Smith says both sides' profligacy will fail to worry whoever the winner faces in the semi-final: "Performances of either side will hardly be worrying Spain or France who await."
Nani shoots right at the side netting on a give and go with Ronaldo; awful decision making from the man who had many teammates in the box!
Pepe tangles with Rezek as the latter looked to chase a long ball; there are some shouts for a free-kick to be awarded against Portugal, but Howard Webb lets the play continue.
UNREAL! Meireles slips Nani in through the defence and his shot is deflected for a corner, though it looked destined for the top left corner of the net!
The verve of the game is slackening a bit - which could prove deadly if either side score now, with less than 20 minutes to go!
Ronaldo brings down a fantastic ball from Pepe in the box, and tees it up for Meireles, who blasts the ball over the bar!
A bit of a let-up in Portugal's play has allowed the Czechs to come back into this somewhat. Baros and Meireles tangle in midfield and Portugal win back possession.
Kadlec is back on the pitch and looks ready to play on. Portugal continue to apply massive pressure here; Nani plays a great ball into the near post that Ronaldo tries to flick on target, but Kadlec gets a foot to it first. Corner to Portugal.
Mark Smith argues that despite Cech's great form, the Czech Republic might not want this to go to penalties, which is a very real possibility unless one of these sides score: "Petr Cech is palming away shot after shot, the 30 year-old custodian is keeping his side in proceedings. Promising if the game heads into penalties, which looks very likely. However, the Czech penalty shooting in training this week left alot to be desired. "
Cech races out of his box to parry a great ball in towards Ronaldo, but knocking Kadlec over in the process. The defender is down and looks to be in quite a bit of pain.
Mark Smith thinks Rosicky may not play a part here at all tonight: "Jan Rezek will replace Vladimir Darida, suggesting that Rosicky will play no part. Rezek is a strong and powerful player who is capable of breaking the deadlock - as his preferred position is centre forward. Performances of either side will hardly be worrying Spain or France who await."
Moutinho takes a shot on goal from outside the box that Cech is forced to tip over the bar! Portugal continue to look ever closer to a goal now!
Moutinho with an awful error in judgement, losing sight of the ball just as it had fallen to him on the edge of the box.
The Czechs slowly getting their feet back now as Baros goes on a promising run, but Portugal have still had the lions' share of better chances. As our stats centre (click "match stats" above) demonstrates, Portugal are dominating shots: 12 to a single one!
Mark Smith thinks Bilek needs to make another change as soon as possible just as Darida comes off for Rezek: "Pressure is really building now on the Czech Republic, it seems a matter of time before Portugal take the lead, as shot after shot is rained in on Cech's goal. Michal Bilek needs to get Tomas Rosicky warming up and pronto."
Out of almost nothing, Pilar constructs nearly a wonder-move! The winger goes on a breathtaking run, getting to the box, faking out two defenders, and sending a cross that nearly find Baros but is cleared at the last second! The game is exploding into life!
A great strike from Nani from just outside the box forces Cech into a very solid parry! That had some dip to it but the Chelsea keeper was more than equal to the task! Seconds later Almeida turns the ball in from Nani's cross but it's offside and chalked off!!!!!
Goal.com's Mark Smith says the Czechs have it all to do this half: "Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar, the oustanding Czechs players so far, have been fairly annoyomous thus far. It's hard to see where a Czech goal will come from. However, the stage could well be set for Tomas Rosciky, who has been sidelined with an achiles injury, to return to the fold as a potential game winner. "
Ronaldo earns a corner now for Portugal as his shot from a long ways out is deflected. Moutinho's delivery skips everyone and ends up at Meireles's feet at the edge of the box, and his volley is well high.
Jiracek concedes a corner after deflecting Porugal's cross. Meireles plays it quite high and Baros clears, letting Patricio orchestrate from the back.
Ronaldo is slipped through the centre-backs thanks to a great lobbed pass from Meireles but the Madrid man fires his shot over the bar!
Nani does very well to keep a quick return pass from going out of play, but passes it right to the Czech defence. The Czechs look like they've figured out how to stifle the side after a few minutes when a goal looked nearly inevitable.
Coentrao whips a cross into the box that Cech plucks out of the air. The goalie tries a quick kick to set up his team's counter, and it works fairly well; the Czechs have a throw-in very deep in the Portuguese half.
The Czechs have barely had a sniff at the ball yet this half as Bento clearly has his men fired up!
On the second bite now, Ronaldo goes for the far post; it beats Cech but hits the post once again! Unbelievable for the Real Madrid man who is absolutely furious!
Hubschman gets in Ronaldo's way and Webb awards a free-kick to Portugal. It's quite a ways out of the box and its the wall, but Webb blows his whistle for a re-take; the wall had encroached and were closer than the mandated 10 yards.
Nani holds up the ball very well before spraying it wide to Pereira; the latter sends a cross into the box that goes well over everyone, but the signal is there: Portugal are absolutely rearing to score!
The second half is underway! No substitutions occurred during the break and Portugal have the ball. Immediately the side race forward as Meireles plays a superb ball in towards Almeida, who heads over the bar from yards out! A lack of a true striker continues to haunt Portugal!
Greg Stobart offers his view on the proceedings from inside the stadium: "Polite applause from the locals as referee Howard Webb blows the half-time whistle after a first-half stalemate. The only genuine chance of the first 45 minutes came in the closing stages when Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post after a quite brilliant turn. The Portugal captain left the pitch at the break shaking his head, knowing that this is a match of very few chances."
As we mull over the first half, Goal.com's Adam Scime reports a fire has broken out in front of Dynamo Kiev Stadium, due to host Italy-England on Sunday. Over 15 fire engines are currently working on containing the blaze, just 200 meters from the stadium!
45' + 2'
As we head into half-time with the score still at 0-0, Victor details the difference between the Portugese strikers following the substitution: "Unlucky Helder Postiga injured and replaced by Hugo Almeida who is a totally different type of player. Whereas Postiga is mobile and looks to exploit spaces, Almeida is a more ‘old-fashioned English’ type of forward. He is big and strong and good in the air, but less mobile. The experienced Besiktas man has not been first choice, but he is a good option and will help hold the ball up."
45' + 1'
RONALDO HITS THE POST! Coentrao again sends a surging ball into the box, that Ronaldo brings down perfectly with his chest to turn and shoot- only to see his shot bounce off the post!
Nani and Ronaldo turning up the flair now; the two combine gorgeously in the box and the former nearly gets a shot off, but a wayward touch gives the Czechs a chance to clear.
Pereira runs right into the path of Limbersky. The Czechs have a free-kick but Portugal counters very quickly. Coentrao plays a fantastic ball in towards Nani; the winger goes down as Limbersky pulls on his arm, but Webb awards no penalty! The winger is very angry about that!
Almeida with an immediate impact as a header in the box goes towards net, but it's quite slow and Cech has it well covered.
Meireles' free kick in the box is easily cleared, but as has happened all too often so far, the Czechs simply cannot capitalize on the counter.
Not a good sign: Postiga pulls up while running and is now down holding his right leg. Bento is taking no chances and is giving instructions to Hugo Almeida, who looks like he's coming on immediately. Postiga is being stretchered off!
Our very own Victor describes Portugal's struggle so far: " Two bookings for Portugal already. It’s a sign of how much they are being given a hard time by the Czechs who are showing themselves to be particularly dangerous on the counter-attack and have forced several corners and had some threatening attacks. Ronaldo and Nani are trying hard, and Ronaldo has had a couple of chances, but the team’s passing has not flowed."
Both sides looking they they could use a few more ideas when attacking- both just going for crosses into the box, and thus far, that hasn't quite worked out.
The Real Madrid man aims for the far post, but Cech watches it all the way and it bounces out of bounds harmlessly.
A high boot from Limbersky takes Nani down and Portugal find themselves with a free kick, towards the right of the pitch, from about 10 yards outside the box. Ronaldo takes a few giant steps back and looks to shoot this on goal.
Ronaldo nearly scores an absolute gem of a goal! The Czechs struggled to clear the ball following a series of corners and crosses; Pepe finally gets the ball to Ronaldo, who tries an overhead kick but watches his effort go wide of the near post!
Both sides having a fair amount of possession, but neither doing much with it at the moment. Portugal perhaps marginally better with their play but the Czechs are far from out of this.
With the first half hour done and dusted, Greg Stobary offers his analysis of how the match has looked inside the stadium: "The crowd - and certainly the Czech Republic fans - have been livened up by a couple of agricultural challenges from Nani and Veloso that led to bookings for the Portugal men. The two coaches are stood on the edge of their technical areas with almost identical hands-in-pockets poses. I'd think Michal Bilek will be the happiest with the way the first third of this match has gone."
Veloso plays a very poor ball in towards Postiga, forcing the striker to chest it when he was wide open, causing his side to lose possession. The Czechs try to counter quickly but are forced back well before Coentrao shepards the ball out of play.
Yellow Card Miguel Veloso
And almost immediately, another caution! Veloso is booked for missing the ball on a tackle entirely, and instead whacking Darida right in the knee.
Yellow Card Nani
Nani reaches in to take the ball from Limbersky, knocking the player over and earning himself the first booking of the match. Webb having none of that!
What a scene in the Czech box! Ronaldo is quickly played into the box, shrugs off Kadlec, and unleashes a shot that Cech races out to parry! The whistle goes soon after and Ronaldo is adjudged to have been offside, though that was certainly a very close call.
Coentrao takes a dipping shot from the edge of the box that, for a second, looks like it will slip in behind Cech - the goalie races back to pluck it safely out of the air.
Goal.com's Victor gives his analysis of how Portugal have done so far: "It’s been an untidy start from Portugal. Their passing has often gone astray. Strangely, they’ve played a lot of long balls, which is not their usual style and has led to them losing possession more often than not. They’ve also been out-muscled in most 50/50 challenges."
Baros races down the right and sends in a solid cross that Pilar just fails to reach in the box. The player tries to win possession back but fouls Pereira as he does so, giving Portugal a free-kick.
Corner for Portugal, as Ronaldo's cross is deflected out. Pepe and Postiga are having some words in the box just before Meireles whips it in, and Howard Webb pulls Jiracek aside to talk to him. All that build-up for nothing as Merieles sends the ball directly out of play from the corner!
Mark Smith advises viewers to keep a close eye on one area of the pitch in particular: "The Czech right hand side of the pitch is packed with talent. This area will be key when the game explodes into life. Gebre Selassie, Jiracek, Ronaldo, Moutinho and Coentrao are roaming down this flank. Mouthwatering."
Darida plays a pitch-perfect cross in towards Baros after being left with plenty of space on the counter; the striker slides but just fails to connect!
A fantastic corner bounces off of Ronaldo's head dangerously and goes out for another! The Real Madrid man had no idea about that- he tried to whip it out of the box and nearly scored a costly own goal!
Plasil tries to dance his way around Pepe after getting on the end of a long ball down the wing, but slips and loses his footing. His teammates are there to regain possession and the Czechs win a corner; suddenly, it's the team in red that's looking all the more dangerous!
Kedlec goes on an amazing run from his spot at the back all the way to the Portugal box! He releases the ball wide for Pilar, who crosses and sees his effort cleared out of the box.
Meireles's ball wide to Nani is headed out of the area by Kadlec. The Czechs regain possession but struggle to do anything with it due to Portugal's heavy pressing.
The Czechs are struggling to take possession back as Nani's cross is deflected for a corner. It's played short to Moutinho, who runs and shoots on the turn, sending the ball right at Cech. Much better from Bento's side now, who are showing some good flair to their attacking plays.
Sivok knocks a very dangerous ball into the box out for a corner, which Meireles whips deep into the box. Initially cleared, it's regained by Portugal and Veloso wins his side a deep throw-in.
Nani pulls down Limbersky near the corner flag in the Czech's half, conceding a free-kick for his needlessly physical challenge.
Goal.com's Mark Smith offers his analysis of the opening minutes of the game: "As expected its been a cagey start, both teams feeling their way into the game. Darida appears to be unfazed by the occasion after some nice early touches, will do him the world of good."
Excellent play from Portugal to get by the Czech box though Postiga's cross inside is easily cut out.
Jiracek cuts inside very well and shoots towards goal but his effort is deflected out for a corner. Once again it's taken short and the delivery into the box is poor, though Portugal waste the counter through Ronaldo.
Postiga runs deep towards the byline to get on the end of a throw-in and pops his toes on the end of the ball before it rolls out, only to send the ball directly out of bounds.
The first five minutes here have been comfortably controlled by the Czechs without them causing too much concern for Portugal. Selassie takes a throw-in and his side almost immediately concede one for their opponents to take. Neither side have yet to truly settle, as so often happens early in matches.
Greg Stobart gives us an inside scoop on the fans inside the stadium: "It's fair to say the Czech Republic supporters here tonight far outnumber those of Portugal, with several thousand seated behind the goal to my left. I'd imagine the reasons are fairly simple: Warsaw is closer to Czech Republic and Michal Bilek's side played their group matches in Poland."
Sloppy from Portugal early on here, as they lose the ball very deep in their area. Some great team pressing allows them to force the Czechs back into their own half, but the side must be more careful!
Plasil muscles his way into the box, forcing Portugal to concede the first corner of the match. The Czechs play it short before sending a cross into the net that Sivok just can't get his head onto.
And we have kick-off! The Czech Republic kick-off, wearing all red kicks, and very quickly pass straight to Pepe, allowing Portugal to regain possession. Bento's side are wearing their white kits tonight.
The Czech Republic's turn now to belt out their song - and the camera zooms in to reveal that Cech hasn't shaved in quite some time. Perhaps he's growing a superstitious beard?
The Portuguese are singing their anthem now - and the look of intensity on each player's face says it all! They're ready for this match.
The two teams are walking out of the dugout now, with Petr Cech and Ronaldo leading their sides as captains. We're mere minutes away!
Excited for tonight's match?! Give a prediction in the chat bar to the right of these Live updates and keep an eye on the stats near that, which will be updated throughout the game to give the most comprehensive Euro coverage anywhere on the internet!
Greg Stobart says the excitement is palpable at the stadium tonight, with both sides' fans more than ready to get this started: "And now with just under 10 minutes until kick-off, one of the better 'opening ceremonies' I've seen in the tournament. Many have been rather tedious but this is getting the crowd going."
The Czechs, meanwhile, have three players carrying a yellow, including Jiracek, Plasil, and Limbersky.
Portugal have five players currently carrying a booking: Ronaldo, Postiga, Meireles, Pereira, and Coentrao.
And make no doubt about it - all eyes will be on Ronaldo tonight, especially following his brace last game and lingering doubts over Postiga's ability to lead the line.
The Czech Republic have finished their pre-match routines and have headed to the dressing room; Portugal had a team huddle on the pitch before heading down the tunnel by Ronaldo, reports Greg Stobart.
Today's winner will be playing for a spot in the semi-finals, where they will face the winner of the Spain/France quarterfinal. In a few short hours we'll know the first semifinalist of the tournament!
Goal.com's Mark Smith has a few words about the surprise in the Poland lineup: "It's a brave but very proactive decision from Michal Bilek to start Darida ahead of Kolar. The young Viktoria Plzen midfielder really impressed on his debut against Israel - showing composure beyond his years. It was also obvious that Kolar was a bystander against Poland. Bilek is growing into this tournament as much as his team is. "
Throughout the evening I'll be sprinkling in some commentary from Goal.com's group of experts and analysts- including this from Greg Stobary who is currently at the stadium: "It took 10 minutes to climb the stairs to my seat here - but boy was it worth it. The roof is on the stadium, some cheesy Polish rock is belting out of the stadium, and it's all quite magnificent. I am up in the Gods, almost level with the big screens hanging from the roof, so it will be a little like watching 22 ants tonight."
As for Portugal, Paulo Bento continues to keep faith in the same starting eleven from his side's 2-1 win over the Netherlands. Nani, Ronaldo, and Helder Postiga thus will lead from the front for the beginning once again. (4-3-3): Patricio; Pereira, Alves, Pepe, Coentrao; Veloso, Moutinho, Meireles; Nani, Ronaldo, Postiga.
The starting elevens have been released! The big news for the Czech Republic is that captain Tomas Rosicky has failed a late fitness test and will be on the bench once again, as he was in the final group match against Greece. There is only one change for Michal Bilek's side, as Vladimir Darida starts over David Kolar in the midfield. (4-5-1): Cech; Selasskie, Kadlec, Sivok, Limbersky; Hubschman, Plasil, Jiracek, Darida, Pilar; Baros
Tonight's match will be held at the Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw, Poland. Howard Webb will be refereeing it, as well.
Portugal finished second in Group B - the pre-tournament choice for this year's Group of Death - via nearly the same exact rout: overcoming an opening loss to follow-up with two successive wins. Their 2-1 victory over the Netherlands on the final group match-day sent the Dutch side home without any points and saw Cristiano Ronaldo roar into life with a powerful brace.
The Cezch Republic put aside a match-day 1 loss to Russia to finish first in Group A, following two successive wins over Greece and Poland. In doing so they've become the first team to ever qualify for the knockout rounds of the Euros with a negative goal differential, allowing five and only scoring four!
Welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of Euro 2012's first quarterfinal: Czech Republic vs Portugal! I'm Julian De Martinis and I'll be taking you through the action before, during, and after the match. First up: a quick review of how these two teams ended up here tonight!
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