Euro 2012: Ronaldo brace knocks out Netherlands
Cristiano Ronaldo finally found the form he was lacking at the European Championship, scoring twice to give Portugal a 2-1 win over the Netherlands and a spot in the quarterfinals.
Cristiano Ronaldo finally found the form he was lacking at the European Championship, scoring twice Sunday to give Portugal a 2-1 win over the Netherlands and a spot in the quarterfinals. (All AFP and AP Images)
Portugal will now face Group A winners Czech Republic in the last eight.
Touted as one of the favourites, the Dutch had a poor tournament and lost all three games to finish last in their group.
The Netherlands have beaten Portugal only once in their past 10 meetings, in 1991.
Ronaldo failed to sparkle in Portugal's 1-0 loss to Germany and 3-2 win over Denmark, but he was devastating against the Dutch.
He produced an equalizer with his first goal of the tournament in the 28th minute and scored the winner in the 74th. He had a half dozen other attempts at goal, including a low drive that clipped the post in the 16th, and he set up two clear chances for team-mates.
For his second goal, Ronaldo received a pass from former Manchester United team-mate Nani, and he coolly wrong-footed his marker and tapped the ball past the goalkeeper.
Needing a win to have a chance at staying in the tournament, the disappointing Dutch fielded an impressive attacking lineup featuring Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie up front. It wasn't enough to keep them at Euro 2012.
Rafael Van der Vaart also got a start and gave the Netherlands the lead in the 11th minute at the Metalist Stadium.
But Portugal then took control of the match.
Though brimming with talent, the Dutch could not find the goals despite adding Huntelaar alongside Robin Van Persie, the leading scorers in the Bundesliga and Premier League, respectively.
"I think we started quite well today and we scored after about 10 minutes," said Holland coach Bert van Marwijk. "But you saw that when we concede a goal, the uncertainty remains. If we'd scored a second, we might have been more sure of ourselves, but we didn't take our chances."
Portugal coach Paulo Bento had anxious moments but at the end was a very happy man.