Cristiano Ronaldo was back to his brilliant best as Portugal beat Holland 2-1 to send the 2010 World Cup finalists home after they failed to win a game at Euro 2012. The win helped Portugal finish second in the “Group of Death, and they will now play the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals next week, while Germany, who beat Denmark 2-1 will play Greece in their quarter-final tie.
Holland entered the game needing to win by two goals to have any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals and they got off to a great start when they went ahead after 11 minutes when Van der Vaart scored with a terrific shot from 20 yards.
But for once Ronaldo and Portugal did not roll over after going a goal down. They continued to pressure the disjointed Dutch, and take advantage of a woeful and static Holland back-four as Nani and Ronaldo ran riot.
First Ronaldo rattled a post after cutting inside Ron Vlaar, and then Helder Postiga missed a great chance when clean through thanks to a mistake by Gregory van der Wiel. Raul Meireles lashed a volley into the side-netting and Ronaldo beat Vlaar to a cross from Joao Pereira but directed his header too near Maarten Stekelenburg, who was able to parry.
Eventually Portugal got the goal their play deserved in the 28th minute when Jetro Willems misplaced a pass and Pereira picked out a superbly timed dash from Ronaldo. Unlike what he did against Denmark, Roanldo ran on and beat Stekelenburg one-on-one to make it 1-1.
Portugal continued to miss chances, they could have scored five or six. The longer the game went on and the more Holland pushed men forward in search of the the goals they needed, the more they left themselves exposed to the quick Portuguese counter-attack. And that is what happened in the 74th minute when Ronaldo scored from a Nani cross.
No more than what Portugal deserved. They were far the better side on the night, and in the tournament.
As for the Dutch, it was a terrible tournament and I cannot see how Dutch coach Bert van Marwick survives this. His side were poor in every game, a line-up seemingly made up of giant ego’s, with no team cohesiveness.
In the other Group B game, Germany won their third game in Euro 2012. New Arsenal signing, Lukas Podolski marked his 100th appearance for Germany with a 19th-minute goal, before Michael Krohn-Dehli leveled for Denmark five minutes later.
Conceding an equalizer briefly threatened the Germans with a shock elimination depending on the outcome of the other Group B decider but defender Lars Bender scored a clinical late goal to set up a quarter-final clash with Greece.