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Five key takeaways from Portugal vs Netherlands

Ronaldo finally rises to the occasion

After a below par  first couple of games for his national side, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo finally came to the party against the Netherlands. After his superbly timed run and well-taken goal, the smile was back, the swagger was back and the confidence was back. It was finally like the Ronaldo we were used to seeing week-in week-out in La Liga. He has generally been a disappointment at major tournaments for his country. How he would dearly like to change that!

Theatrics unwanted and unnecessary

It was disgusting to see the cheap theatrics the players resorted to, to earn some cheap fouls and free-kicks. This is a component of the game that looks ugly and should be weeded out. Specially in a do-or-die match like this, with both teams possessing such highly skillful players, the theatrics were a poor distraction from all the end to end action the game witnessed.

Van Der Vaart justifies his selection in the starting 11

After publicly voicing his displeasure over not being in the starting 11 for the matches against the Danes and the Germans, Rafael Van Der Vaart stamped his authority on this match with a wonderful strike from outside the box and another fantastic effort which hit the post in the 2nd half. Playing alongside Nigel De Jong in midfield, he played the role of the linkman between the defence and attack perfectly, picking the ball up from centrebacks Vlaar and Mathijsen and pinging accurate passes forward for Van Persie, Sneijder and Robben.

The Dutch have only themselves to blame

It has been a shambolic tournament for the Dutch, both on and off the field. One of the 3 favourites to go on and win the tournament, they couldn’t even manage a single victory in the group stages. Perhaps too many big egos and alleged favouritism (captain Mark Van Bommel is coach Bert Van Marwijk’s son-in-law) has hurt their cause. It has been an embarrassing trip to Poland and Ukraine for the Dutch fans.

The Portuguese can go all the way

After starting the tournament slowly, with a rather unlucky defeat against the Germans, the Portuguese have finally impressed. They showcased their never-say-die spirit with a thrilling win against the Danes, and didn’t panic when the Dutch took the lead early in the game. They have a very settled look to their team, and with their confidence sky high after the win against the Danes and the Dutch, they should be looking forward to the knockout stages.

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