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Ronaldo heads Portugal to semifinal at Euro Cup

Ronaldo heads Portugal to semifinal at Euro Cup

Warsaw: The Czech Republic failed to turn back the clock and repeat their 1996 glory Thursday night when Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portugal to a convincing 1-0 quarterfinal victory at the European Championship here.

Ronaldo's powerful header rewrote the duo's rivalry at the same stage of the tournament 16 years ago when a lesser unknown Czech side beat a star-studded Portuguese squad 1-0, Xinhua reported.

With the third victory in their fifth successive Euro quarterfinal, Portugal will take on either Spain or France in the semifinals in Donetsk, Ukraine June 27.

The Czechs started solid and dynamic in the first 20 minutes, highlighted by the left-wing attack from Vaclav Pilar and the linking contribution from the playmaker Vladimir Darida.

Ronaldo tested the keeper Petr Cech's nerves in the 33rd minute when a corner was not cleared far away by the defenders and the Protugal's skipper tried an brilliant overhead volley which just flied past the post.

Portugal nearly broke the deadlock just before the halftime whistle when Ronaldo showed adapt footwork to control Raul Meireles' pass and struck low from the right area, only seeing the ball hit the post.

Ronald's effort was rejected by the post again five minutes into the second half when the forward's 23-metre freekick swerved over the wall and Cech's touch but hit the outside of the right post, which was Portugal's sixth time hit to the woodwork this tournament, creating a Euro record.

With 21 minutes left, Ronaldo finally made the breakthrough. The Real Madrid winger made an in-time run onto Joao Moutinho's right-flank pass to head into the dead corner in front a desperate Cech.

Cech proved that he was no doubt one of the best keepers in the world with his many sharp saves to stop a bunch of clear chances from Portugal.

The duo met twice before the clash, both in the European Championships. The Czechs had won their quarterfinal 16 years ago.


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