Sunday, 17 June 2012

Portugal vs Netherlands (Euro 2012 Group B): Match report

Cristiano Ronaldo brought Portugal from a goal behind to secure a 2-1 victory against Netherlands and book his side's place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

The Real Madrid hitman struck either side of half-time to cancel out Rafael Van Der Vaart's early opener and ensure a well-deserved three points.

Denmark's 2-1 loss to Germany in the other final group match means that Portugal finish three points clear of the 1992 champions and will face Group A winners Czech Republic in the last eight.

Van Der Vaart gave Netherlands the lead in the eleventh minute with a curling left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area, but Portugal dominated the first half from then onwards.

Ronaldo hit the outside of the post with a scuffed effort and forced a decent save out of Martin Stekelenburg with a close-range header while Helder Postiga fluffed a great opportunity having benefited from Gregory Van Der Wiel's loose pass backwards.

Portugal's pressure finally told in the 28th minute when Joao Pereira neatly poked the ball through to Ronaldo who took it into his stride with his first touch and placed it into the back of the net with his second.

The former World Player of the Year tested Stekelenburg five minutes later with a speculative 35-yard drive and threatened once more when he headed Joao Moutinho's corner past the post.

Netherlands' centre-back Ron Vlaar missed the target with a free header early in the second half but another promising moment for the Dutch signalled a further period of Portuguese domination.

Postiga had a goal correctly ruled out for offside on the hour-mark and both Fabio Coentrao and Nani brought the best out of Stekelenburg.

A second goal seemed inevitable and there were no suprises when Ronaldo got it. The 27-year-old started a free-flowing counter-attack and ended it by latching onto Nani's crossfield pass and confidently smashing the ball home.

Netherlands needed a miracle by this point if they were to qualify for the knockout stages but to their credit they came close to an equaliser on two occasions as Van Der Vaart rattled the post with a right-footed equivalent of his goal and Robin Van Persie fired a shot wide having broke free in the penalty area.

Ronaldo nearly sealed a hat-trick in the final minute of normal time, but even though the width of a post denied him, there's no doubt that the tournament's most revered player has finally arrived.

Team line-ups
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Alves, Pepe, Coentrao, Joao Pereira, Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Meireles (Custodio 72), Nani (Rolando 87), Ronaldo, Postiga (Oliveira 64). Subs: Eduardo, Beto, Costa, Rolando, Miguel Lopes, Custodio, Ruben Micael, Viana, Almeida, Quaresma, Oliveira, Varela.

Goals: Ronaldo (28) and (74).
Bookings: Joao Pereira (90 + 2).
Red cards: N/A
Netherlands: Stekelenburg, Van Der Wiel, Mathijsen, Vlaar, Willems (Afellay 67), De Jong, Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Huntelaar, Robben, Van Persie. Subs: Vorm, Krul, Heitinga, Bouma, Boulahrouz, Van Bommel, Schaars, Strootman, Kuyt, De Jong, Narsingh, Afellay. 

Goals: Van der Vaart (11).  
Bookings: Willems (51) and Van Persie (69).
Red cards: N/A 

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

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