Portugal has qualified for the Euro 2016 Semi-Finals for the sixth time, more than any other international side, after beating Poland on penalties after the teams drew 1-1 after 120-minutes of football.
Portugal will face Belgium or Wales for a place in the final of Euro 2016 despite failing to win a single match in 90-minutes throughout the entire tournament.
In 90-minutes of football, Fernando Santos’s side has drawn against Iceland, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, at these finals. A last minute header from Ricardo Quaresma sealing the win in a dreadful Round of 16 tie against Croatia, and he was the hero once more scoring the winning penalty in another lacklustre Euro 2016 tie.
Poland came into the match with only one defeat in their last 13 games. Unlike Portugal, they had a few wins under their belt after beating Northern Ireland and Ukraine in the group matches. They defeated Switzerland in the Round of 16 via a penalty shoot out.
If there was ever a time for Robert Lewandowski to announce his arrival at Euro 2016 this was it. It’s not that the Bayern striker has been playing poorly, he just hasn’t been getting the chances. He seems to be drifting deeper to graft for the side, and that’s seen most of the chances fall at the feet of Arkadiusz Milik, and let’s just say the Ajax striker must have left his clogs at home.
In contrast, Cristiano Ronaldo has two goals to his name, after a fabulous brace against Hungary, but he has looked tired, testy, and downright fed up at times – including that match against the might Magyars.
The performances of these two players were key, and it would take only two minutes for one of them to step up to the plate after Lewandowski put the Poles ahead before the kettle had even boiled.
It was the sixth time Portugal had made the quarterfinals of the European Championship, more than any other nation, and for long periods of the first half, it looked like that’s as far as they would go.
Then, in the 32nd minute, the Portuguese wonderkid Renato Sanches scored his first international goal after his shot deflected off the arm of the hapless Grzegorz Krychowiak leaving the excellent Fabianski rooted to the spot. It was the 18-year old’s first start of the tournament.
And that was the end of that.
At these Euros, you can pick out the fast flowing football matches on one finger, and this wasn’t one of them. Teams seem to be all too happy to get to penalties. They look tired, lethargic, and devoid of innovation. And that’s where we ended up.
Ronaldo, who has already missed a penalty in the finals, stepped up first and scored. Lewandowski equalised. After the two stars did their bit players stepped up and mirrored them until Jakub Blaszczykowski tried to put the ball to the left of Rui Patricio only for the Portuguese keeper to make a splendid save.
That miss gave Quaresma the opportunity to repeat his heroics of the Round of 16 win against Croatia, and he duly obliged smashing his penalty into the back of the net to send Portugal into the semi-finals for the fifth time in their history, and that’s where I am afraid the journey will end.
Euro 2016 Odds Outright Win Courtesy of Bodog
• Germany +275
• France +275
• Belgium +400
• Portugal +500
• Italy +600
• Wales +2500
• Iceland +3300