Cristiano Ronaldo has once again showed why he’s such a class act and why every other Galactico will always play second fiddle to him. He produced a match winning display which hitherto earned Portugal a semi-final win against Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale and a place in the final of the Euro 2016 championship.
Wales where given a rude awakening to their fairytale run in the tournament after qualifying for their first semi-final in a major competition since 1958, as Portugal produced their first win in 90 minutes in the knockout stages of Euro 2016 to win a game that was keenly contested.
The game was won and lost in 3 minutes as everything seemed to happen so fast. Ronaldo looked like had been injected with a new wave of vigor after the restart of play in the second half. 5 minutes after the break the Portuguese superstar leapt highest to score the opener from a well-delivered corner and then 3 minutes later he saw his goalbound effort deflected away from Hennessey just as the Welshman was going to leap into action, and instead was bundled into the net by Nani with the outside of his right foot.
Ronaldo’s goal tied him with Michel Platini for most goals scored in Euros, with each having scored 9.
The game began in an intense fashion, befitting for a semi-final match on the biggest stage in European football which had on show two of the most expensive footballers in the world.
Gareth Bale was the better of the Galactico pair in the opening 45 minutes as he blazed an effort just wide and minutes later had a shot saved. That was to be all the meaningful goal-mouth contribution we would see from the Welsh forward in the first half.
Ashley Williams had to make a last gasp tackle to deny Ronaldo after some sloppy defending from the Welsh back three. The first half invariably flew by with the bulk of play happening in the middle as chances were few and far between.
Ronaldo headed wide, Bale had a shot saved (only shot on target in the first half) while Joao Mario had a low shot which went wide.
With both teams missing key players such as Pepe (Portugal, thigh injury), William Carvalho (Portugal, suspended, 2nd yellow), Ramsey (Wales, suspended, 2nd yellow) and Ben Davies (Wales, suspended, 2nd yellow) the game was still packed with action.
It was however in the second half that the game exploded into life, after Ronaldo proved too strong in the air to head in from Raphael Guerreiro’s cross. A sliding Nani was on hand to divert Ronaldo’s power driver. The game seemed realistically over from then on.
Much respect for Chris Coleman’s side though, they didn’t back down and kept chasing the game even though they couldn’t get a goal to show for it at the end of the ninety.
Bale had a couple of shots saved by Rui Patricio before getting booked for his overzealousness while Danilo had a great opportunity to make it three-nil spurned (quite carelessly). The 2 goals from Ronaldo’s magic moments would prove sufficient for the day.
Portugal can have a night to celebrate and pat themselves on the backs for a job well done, but they will surely have some nervy feelings ahead of whoever faces them in the Euro 2016 final on July 10.