Portugal beat the Czech Republic by a solitary goal in Warsaw last night, courtesy Cristiano Ronaldo‘s 79th minute header. They now face either France or Spain in the semi-finals, while the Czechs bow out of Euro 2012.
Let’s take a look at how they fared last night.
Petr Cech – 7
The Chelsea shot stopper was solid throughout the game. His positioning was excellent, and he was on hand to parry several Portuguese efforts, notably from Nani, Joao Moutinho and Cristiano Ronaldo until the Real Madrid ace headed home in the closing stages of the game. Did well to tip Ronaldo’s free kick onto the post in the second half and as expected, he commanded his box with authority. Might have been taken by surprise for Ronaldo’s winner, and he could’ve gotten fingers to it.
Theodore Gebreselassie – 6
The Slovan Liberec fullback has had a good tournament. He was full of boundless energy and running, but was unable to contribute much of an attacking threat given that the Czech Republic spent most of the match defending against the Portuguese onslaught. It didn’t help either that he had to deal alternatively with Ronaldo, Nani and Coentrao, but managed to hold his own at times. Rumours are that Arsenal want his signature, and he would do well in England. Lost Ronaldo for the winner and should’ve done better in that situation.
Michel Kadlec – 6
Kadlec was a rock at the back throughout the game for the Czechs, marking Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida (when he replaced Postiga) throughout the game. Was combative in the air as he challenged Almeida for every long ball that was aimed at him, and made a great last-ditch block to deny Nani from opening the scoring in the 73rd minute. However, he was too slow to react to Ronaldo, as was seen in the wing wizard’s turn and shot which hit the post in the first half.
Tomas Sivok – 6.5
Went about his business of keeping the Portuguese attack at bay as he took it in turns with Kadlec to shackle Postiga and Almeida as best as he could. Did a good job of mopping up at the back, booting several balls downfield, but there was only so much he could do against the waves of Portuguese that kept coming at him, and looked a little lost as the Portuguese stepped up their attack in the second half.
David Limbersky – 6
Credit to him for going toe-to-toe with Luis Nani for a majority of the game. Kept him quiet, but was overwhelmed as Portugal threw more men forward. Didn’t get forward that often and defended fairly well. A workman-like shift from the fullback.
Jaroslav Plasil – 6.5
The Girondins de Bordeaux man was the Czech Republic’s main man in midfield in the absence of the injured Tomas Rosicky, and he certainly began the game brightly. Tried to get several attacks going in the first half, linking up well with Vaclav Pilar, but the Portuguese defenders remained relatively untroubled. His stock began to decline in the second half and looked slightly befuddled as the trio of Moutinho, Meireles and Veloso steadily began to take control of midfield.
Petr Jiracek – 6.5
The attacking midfielder knew that he would have to share the attacking workload of the Czechs along with Plasil, and his intention was always there. The goalscoring hero against Poland tried to pick apart the Portuguese defence with shots from distance and deft passes, but his endeavour came to nothing, as like the rest of the team, he was putting out fires all over the place when Portugal decided to take the came by the scruff of the neck in the second half.
Tomas Hubschmann – 6
Dictated the tempo in midfield for his side and was always available to receive the ball from his teammates. He was willing to get forward and was not afraid to ask for the ball from his teammates, but he lost his way in the second half and looked positively overwhelmed by the Portuguese midfield, sloppily conceding possession at times. Taken off for Pekhart as the Czechs looked to get a late equaliser.
Vaclav Pilar – 6.5
The willingness to work was always present in the Wolfsburg winger. He was a good attacking outlet in the first half, running at Joao Pereira and was one of his team’s more lively players. Was always running, and entertained the crowd with his style of play. A lovely dribble in the second half but no end product characterised his shift on the night, where he always had good attacking intentions, but was unable to convert that endeavour into efforts on goal.
Vladimir Darida – 6.5
Always looked calm and composed on the ball, replacing the injured Rosicky in the middle of the park. Played several good passes with his teammates and gave a good account of himself, but was taken off soon after the hour mark for Jan Rezek.
Milan Baros – 5
Underwhelming to say the least. Received passes from his team-mates but failed to trouble the Portuguese defence whatsoever. He’s worked hard throughout the tournament, but has had precious little to show for it. It’s not entirely his fault though, coming into Poland-Ukraine with an injury. His performances have seen him receive jeers from the crowd throughout his side’s stay in Polkraine.
Jan Rezek – 5
Replaced Darida but was unable to breach the Portugal rearguard.
Tomas Pekhart – N/A
Rui Patricio – 6
Rather hard to give him a rating, because he was relatively untroubled throughout the game. Should’ve brought a beer guzzler helmet and barcalounger and chatted to the fifth official throughout. They both had very little to do anyway. His defence was solid, meaning that he was a passenger for a majority of the 90 minutes
Joao Pereira – 7.5
A very good performance from the Valencia fullback. Defended well against the Czechs and got forward with aplomb time and time again. Linked well with the attacking elements of his team, troubling Limbersky time and time again. Overlapped in tandem with Nani, and always looked composed both on the ball and of it.
Kepler Pepe – 7.5
An all-action performance from the centre-back. Defended very solidly alongside Bruno Alves as he kept the likes of Pilar, Jiracek and Baros at bay. Screamed at shouted orders to his teammates throughout the game, and made several forwards runs, all of them to good effect.
Bruno Alves – 7.5
While Pepe was the screamer at the back, Alves led by being quietly efficient. Both players complemented each other very well, and the understanding between them was telepathic – not something noticed among defenders. Looked threatening when he occasionally got forward and was a beast in the air.
Fabio Coentrao – 7.5
Was solid like the rest of his defence, and zoomed up and down Gebreselassie’s flank, causing no end of problems for the Czech fullback. The fact that he was playing in tandem with Ronaldo made the Portguese left wing all the more explosive. Another good performance from the Real Madrid defender who has made the left-back position his own for the national side.
Miguel Veloso – 7
Although he was employed as a deep-lying holding midfielder, his services in that capacity were only required in the first half, since the Czechs lost impetus going forward after the break. It’s a good thing they did, because not only did it mean he could join in the attack, but he was walking a tightrope after being booked for a tackle in the first half. Precise passing from the Genoa man.
Raul Meireles – 8
Portugal’s artillery piece. He launched long balls towards Ronaldo and Almeida with deadly accuracy, often catching his opponents in sixes and sevens. Ran throughout the game in a performance full of commitment and energy. Was a bit rough with his finished product, though, shooting over in the second half when set up by his team-mates.
Joao Moutinho – 8
Worked very well with Meireles alongside him, and his pedigree was present for all to see as he grew in confidence as the game progressed. Stung Cech’s palms with a powerful drive from 25 yards in the second half, and always picked out his team mates with his efficient passing. More proactive than Meireles.
Luis Nani – 6.5
His shift was mostly spent hugging the touchline as he tried to run past Limbersky time and time again, but the Czech fullback proved to be a formidable opponent. His pace always came up second-best against the fullbacks assured tackles. Still ran his socks off, and had a penalty shout disallowed by referee Howard Webb in the first half.
Helder Postiga – 5.5
Hauled off in the 39th as he pulled up with a hamstring injury but didn’t exude the same quality as he did against Denmark. Was slow to get into the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 9
Without doubt the standout performer on the night. Was a constant thorn in the Portuguese side, and was eager to leave his mark on the game after such a poor showing against the Danes. Continued his excellent form from the Netherlands match as he struck the woodwork once in each half, mauling Gebreselassie in the process. Finally got the goal he deserved and his tiger-like celebration meant Portugal’s opponents will hear his roar, if his class wasn’t already there for all to see.
Hugo Almeida – 6.5
Played the target man role like a duck takes to water and threatened the Czechs on occasion. One header was sent over the bar, while a second one, though well-taken, was rightly adjudged offside. The go-to guy for many of his side’s attacks, and was always an aerial threat.
Rolando – N/A
Custodio – N/A