17th of June 2012 Author: Johnny Karp
Cristiano Ronaldo turned on the style when it mattered the most: the Real Madrid star scored twice as Portugal beat the Netherlands 2-1 to secure second spot in Group B and a quarter final clash with the Czech Republic.
The Dutch team were hoping for a win and an unlikely qualification and their dreams did seem real after 11 minutes when Rafael van der Vaart put them in front with a spectacular strike. But then Cristiano Ronaldo stepped into the spotlight as he scored twice and hit the post on two other occasions.
Holand captain Rafael van der Vaart celebrated his 99th cap for the nation with a superb goal 11 minutes after the start but his team was unrecognizable soon after that goal. Ronaldo started his show with a shot against the post before testing goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg with a powerful header. Portugal were gaining ground and the Dutch seemed unable to stop them. The inevitable happened before half time when Ronaldo received a clever through pass from Joao Pereira, beat the offside trap and coolly placed the ball past the onrushing goalie. Nani and Helder Postiga also went close before the break.
The Netherlands created chances after the break through their defensive players, Ron Vlaar and Nigel de Jong, but it was obvious that Portugal were in control. Ronaldo created chances for Fabio Coentrao and Nani, both denied by awesome saves from Stekelenburg. The Dutch goalie had no chance on 74 minutes though when Ronaldo broke loose again and scored the decisive goal.
Van der Vaart struck the crossbar while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie also went close late on, too late to make a difference. Ronaldo came close to achieving a hat-trick in the final minute but his fierce shot cannoned back off the post.
The Netherlands leave the tournament with a shameful zero points to their name while Portugal prepare for meeting the Czech Republic in the quarter finals.
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