Ronaldo brace dumps out Dutch
Improving Portugal set up Czech Republic clash
Last Updated: June 18, 2012 4:05pm
Portugal advanced to the quarter-final of Euro 2012 thanks to a 2-1 win against hapless Holland at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv.
The Dutch, needing a two goal victory at the start of the night in the hope of advancing to the knockout stages made the perfect start after just 11 minutes.
Arjen Robben picked out captain Rafael van der Vaart on the edge of the penalty area and the Tottenham playmaker shifted the ball onto his left foot before bending a stunning strike into the far corner past Rui Patricio's despairing dive.
Six minutes later, Gregory van der Wiel gifted Helder Postiga an excellent opportunity to restore parity, but the striker's effort was deflected wide of the target.
Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg then denied Cristiano Ronaldo with a superb point-blank save.
But Portugal did eventually level things up just before the half-hour mark as full-back Joao Pereira picked out Ronaldo with a deliciously precise through ball and the Real Madrid man stayed onside and kept his nerve this time to find a small gap between Stekelenburg and the post.
Despite second half Dutch pressure, Portugal took the lead with 16 minutes remaining thanks to a classic counter-attacking move.
Joao Moutinho found Nani down the right and the winger's slide rule pass was collected by Ronaldo who kept his cool to fire home his second of the night.
Ronaldo came close to bagging his hat-trick in stoppage time, but he was denied by the post.
The 27-year-old responded to criticism of his form with a mesmerising display topped by a goal in each half to ensure Portugal finished the 'group of death' as runners-up behind Germany.
Apart from a fine early strike from Van der Vaart, Holland were poor, ensuring a team considered among the pre-tournament favourites finished bottom of Group B without a point to their name.
Portugal will now face the Czech Republic in the last eight of the tournament at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Thursday night.
The match was 11 minutes old when Holland's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals were given a shot in the arm.
Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben weaved a path to the edge of the area where Van der Vaart was waiting to steer an inch-perfect finish into the bottom left corner.
A moment of madness from Gregory van der Wiel almost saw Holland concede the advantage but, having inexplicably passed the ball to Helder Postiga, he watched in relief as the Portugal striker shot wide with only Maarten Stekelenburg to beat.
Stekelenburg then kept out a well-struck header by Ronaldo, who would not be denied in the 28th minute.
The initial damage was done by Joao Pereira's defence-splitting pass and Ronaldo rewarded his vision with a composed first touch and slick finish.
Nani missed narrowly, but it was Portugal's captain who was the prominent figure on the pitch as he twice went close to seizing the lead.
Holland's defence was in danger over being over-run with Ronaldo cast at their tormentor in chief with Portugal pushing for a second.
The Real Madrid forward continued to attack the Dutch early in the second half, but his side should have trailed in the 53th minute.
Wesley Sneijder crossed from the left to the unmarked Ron Vlaar only for his clumsy attempted header to drift off-target from close range.
Postiga had a goal disallowed for offside before Fabio Coentrao was denied by sharp reactions from Stekelenburg, who then frustrated Nani from point-blank range after a marauding run by Ronaldo.
The Portugal wingers combined once again in the 74th minute, and this time Holland cracked.
A swift counter attack ended with Nani feeding a long pass to Ronaldo who dummied his shot, took the ball into space and prodded home.Van der Vaart curled an effort onto the right post as Holland produced a strong finish, but there was still time for Ronaldo to hit the woodwork.
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|8||Shots on Target||3|
|13||Shots off Target||7|
|36.9||1st Half Poss.||63.1|
|39||2nd Half Poss.||61|
European Championships Group A
European Championships Group B
European Championships Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||3||0|
European Championships Group D
Portugal v Netherlands
Rafael van der Vaart admits Holland 'didn't deserve to go through' after a Cristiano Ronaldo brace ended any hopes they had of progressing.
Portugal midfielder Miguel Veloso hailed his side's display as they overcame Holland to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
We examine the key points of debate from Portugal's game against Holland in Group B.