Portugal became the first team into the semi-finals of UEFA Euro 2016 after beating Poland 5-3 on penalties at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. We take a look at the five key moments from the game.
Lewandowski scores, finally
Robert Lewandowski gave Poland a dream start as the Bayern Munich striker fired his country ahead after just one minute and 40 seconds. Portugal defender Cedric Soares allowed a long ball to bounce over his head, which offered Kamil Grosicki time and space to deliver a low cross from the left, which Lewandowski gleefully guided home past Rui Patricio from near the penalty spot to score the second-fastest goal in European Championship history. It was Lewandowski’s first goal at Euro 2016 and snapped a run of 644 minutes without a goal at the Euros for the Poland captain.
Renato Sanches continues to impress
After impressing against Croatia in the last round, Renato Sanches marked his first start for his country with the equalising goal on 33 minutes. The 18-year-old ran at the Poland defence before exchanging a pass with Nani and drilling a left-footed shot into the corner of the goal past Lukasz Fabianksi via a deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak. The Bayern Munich new boy became the third youngest goalscorer in European Championship history behind Johan Vonlanthen and Wayne Rooney. The €35m signing from Benfica added a bit of pace to a rather slow Portugal midfield. His drive, comfort on the ball and vision made him a crucial reference point for his teammates to pick out at every opportunity and also kept his cool to calmly sweep home his penalty in the shootout. Some debut!
Cristiano Ronaldo disappoints again
They blamed his poor displays at the 2014 FIFA World Cup on injury. No doubt this disappointing tournament will be attributed to tiredness. But Cristiano Ronaldo has simply not been the dominant force that he is at Real Madrid. Though he was certainly unfortunate to be denied a penalty in the first half, he twice had clear-cut chances in the second, and on one occasion ran in behind the Polish back line only to fail to make any contact with Joao Moutinho’s superb flighted through ball. Could it be that he’s just trying too hard? However, he converted Portugal’s first penalty in the shootout to help settle nerves and the Portugal supporters will certainly be hoping that it will serve as a confidence booster heading into their next match against either Belgium or Wales.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 30, 2016
Portugal – extra-time specialists?
From the minute Poland took the lead, Adam Nawalka’s side dropped deeper and deeper – like they did against Switzerland – and simply looked to soak things ups. Things didn’t change even after Portugal netted the equaliser, with Poland no longer playing for a 1-0 win but instead just preserving parity. It certainly didn’t make for great football, and had Portugal been a little less wasteful in front of goal, they would have run out comfortable winners. But having said that, Portugal hadn’t won a single game in 90 minutes so far in France and it was no surprise the game between these two sides went into extra-time for the second consecutive round. The quarter-final match was the sixth time in European Championship history that a game featuring Portugal had gone to extra-time – only the Netherlands (7) have done it more often.
Jakub Blaszczykowski has been Poland’s star performer this summer scoring and assisting twice but last night he suffered the agony of missing the crucial penalty in the shootout which sent his nation home. The Borussia Dortmund winger could only watch on in anguish as Patricio dived to his left to palm away Poland’s fourth spot-kick. Ronaldo, Sanches, Moutinho and Nani had all scored for Portugal, with Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik and Kamil Glik finding the net for Poland before Kuba’s miss which left the door open for Ricardo Quaresma to rifle home the fifth and final penalty into the roof of the net and send Portugal through to the last four.
This article is written by Shantanu Ambekar, you can follow him on Twitter at @ShantanuAmbekar. What are your thoughts? Let us know by dropping a comment via our comments box below. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and like us on Facebook.