Cristiano Ronaldo warned Portugal will be “ready for the fight” when they line up for next week’s European Championship semi-final after his header beat the Czech Republic in Warsaw.
The Real Madrid forward had twice hit the woodwork and seen his team have a goal chalked off for offside before he arrived on cue in the six-yard box to nod in Joao Moutinho’s cross on 79 minutes at the National Stadium.
Ronaldo showed the same kind of sparkle that saw the Portugal captain dominate play and claim a brace in his team’s 2-1 defeat of the Netherlands last Sunday — goals he had dedicated to his son, who turned two the same day.
The Czechs — with captain Tomas Rosicky, the Arsenal midfielder, only on the bench because of an Achilles injury — had started brightly, but lacked a cutting edge in the final third.
By contrast Portugal, who came through the ‘Group of Death’ behind Germany, looked a fluid outfit and but for some wayward finishing and the width of a post could have won by a more comfortable margin.
Either France or world champions Spain will await in Donetsk on June 27, and former Manchester United frontman Ronaldo maintained: “We know it is going to be difficult, but we are ready, we are confident. We are very mature, so we are ready for the fight.” Despite Ronaldo grabbing the headlines, Portugal coach Paulo Bento was reluctant to single out any individual performances. “All the players have tasks on the pitch, and Ronaldo played to our tactical system,” the Portugal coach said.
Portuguese winger Nani, who also had an outstanding game, said that the victory while long in coming was deserved. “We played really well, we were stylish on the pitch and it was a great team effort,” said the Manchester United star.
Postiga to miss semis
Striker Helder Postiga has been ruled out of next week’s semi-final through injury, the Portuguese football federation have confirmed.
Postiga was replaced just before half-time against the Czechs after suffering what the FPF have announced is a “a muscle injury to the back of the right thigh.”