It took 120 minutes, but Portugal have advanced to the quarter-final of Euro 2016. Knockout rounds are where legends are made. Teams make their mark on history. Matches are forever burned into the minds of the millions of spectators. And then there are games like Croatia and Portugal.
Who Wants to Shoot?
History was made in the Round of 16. Neither team will be thrilled to be associated with the record. It was the first match in the history of the tournament where neither team recorded a shot on target in the ninety minutes. Two teams, as is common in knockout rounds, played not to lose. Neither team was willing to throw numbers forward, therefore leaving a chance for the counter. And what did that produce? One of the least entertaining matches in recent memory.
Ronaldo and Nani, the only goal scorers for Portugal in the group stages, combined for just three shots (only one on target). Combined the two teams had a total of two shots on target in 120 minutes. Not exactly the offensive explosion expected with the likes of Ronaldo, Ivan Rakitić, and Luka Modrić on the pitch.
Croatia finally seemed to turn up the pressure, and Ivan Perišić nearly had the winner off a header in the 116th minute. Instead, Rui Patrício had the woodwork to thank for keeping the Croatians off the board. The Croatians had numbers forward as they pushed for the match winner, and the Portuguese took full advantage.
Nani took a shot that was going well wide, but it fell to the magical right boot of Ronaldo. This was the moment. And for a quick second, it wasn’t meant to be. Danijel Subašić denied Ronaldo’s shot. But the deflection found a wide open Ricardo Quaresma all alone in front of goal. His soft header found the back of the net and the celebrations began.
Portugal will meet Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in the quarter-final. Poland progressed to the last eight after beating Switzerland on penalties. Two of Europe’s best players, Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski, will battle it out for a place in the semi-final.