Euro 2016: Rui Patricio penalty heroics send Portugal through to semifinals
Rui Patricio was the hero as Blaszczykowski missed for Poland
Portugal went through to the semifinals of the 2016 UEFA Euros after beating Poland 5-3 on penalties. The 120 minutes ended on 1-1, with Poland opening the scoring through Robert Lewandowski early in the 2nd minute, but Renato Sanches equalised for Portugal minutes after the hal-hour mark, with there being no winner in the rest of normal time and extra time.
Portugal XI: Rui Patricio; Cedric, Fonte, Pepe, Eliseu; W.Carvalho, Adrien, Joao Mario, Sanches; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Poland XI: Fabianski; Piszczek, Glik, Pazdán, Jedrzejczyk; Blaszczykowski, Maczýnski, Krychowiak, Grosicki; Milik, Lewandowski.
The quarterfinal stages of the 2016 UEFA Euros got of to a storming start, with Poland shocking a sleeping Portugal in the 2nd minute itself. Cedric misjudged a header while clearing a diagonal aimed at Grosicki on the wing, allowing the Polish winger to rifle in a low cross that Robert Lewandowski expertly turned into the net with a first time shot, his first goal in the Euros after a 645 minute drought.
Poland continued to attack on the counter, with Portugal creating nothing in the opening 25 minutes. However, they had a stonewall penalty shout turned down in the 30th minute as Pazdan shoved Ronaldo when the Real Madrid forward looked set to get on the end of a tempting cross from the left.
Portugal did not stew over their misfortune for too long, as Renato Sanches, the youngest player to ever start for Portugal in a major tournament, dragged his national side back into the game. The Bayern Munich youngster exchanged a 1-2 with Nani on the edge of the box and then powered a thunderbolt towards goal with his left foot, with Fabianski beaten by the ball deflecting off Krychowiak, drawing the game level in the 33rd minute.
Portugal nearly undid their good work towards the end of the half, but a couple of blocks and deflections ensured the game went tied into the break.
In a stark contrast to the first half, the opening 15 minutes of the second half passed without barely anything of note happening. Nani strived to be Portugal’s creator, sending Ronaldo through on the left edge of the box with a smart through ball, but the Portuguese captain spurned the chance firing wide off the post with his left foot.
With the game becoming increasingly attritional, Milik almost scored from a rare foray forward, but was unable to put much power on a flick-on, with Rui Patricio collecting with ease. Fonte went close with a header from a Joao Moutinho corner in the 79th minute, but his effort was straight at Fabanski.
Moutinho ought to have had an assist, and Portugal the winner in the 86th minute, but for Ronaldo. The substitute floated in a peach of a ball over the Polish defence, with Ronaldo having run clear, but the superstar missed his attempt at a first-time volley entirely, which meant that the 90 minutes ended with the game all square.
Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to be enduring one of those nights, as the Portuguese striker missed another chance from a left-wing cross, as the ball took a deflectionand dropped to him about two yards from goal, but he was unable to readjust his feet in time, allowing Poland to clear.
With both sides tiring, there was litlle that was created by either side in the second half of extra time, as both sides played out a rather dull end to the game, resulting in a consecutive penalty shootout for both sides.
Ronaldo stepped up to take the first penalty and slammed the ball home with confidence, much like Lewandowski for Poland as well. Blaszczykowski was the only player to miss from an excellent set of penalties, with Rui Patricio making a fantastic save, while Quaresma scored to send Portugal through to the semifinals of the 2016 UEFA Euros.