Euro 2016 round up: Hungary 3 Portugal 3 - and what the result means

Portugal's Joao Mario, Eliseu and Ricardo Carvalho applaud their fans after the match.
Portugal's Joao Mario, Eliseu and Ricardo Carvalho applaud their fans after the match.PHOTO: REUTERS

Cristiano Ronaldo, the best European footballer of his generation, has finally announced himself at Euro 2016.

With Portugal on the brink of elimination in their final Group F game against Hungary, the forward played a part in all three equalisers as his side qualified for the last 16.

His assist for Nani in the first half cancelled out Zoltan Gera's stunning opener.

When Hungary midfielder Balazs Dzsudzsak put his side back in front with a free kick two mintues after the restart, Ronaldo swiftly answered with a clever backheel to become the first player to score in four European Championships.

Consistency at a high level has been a hallmark of Ronaldo's career. The Real Madrid star is the first player to score 50 goals in all competitions for sixth straight seasons. He is also the first to score at least 10 goals in five Champions League seasons.

 
 
 
 

Often criticised for not reproducing his best form for the Selecao, the 31-year-old delivered for his country on the day Portugal needed him most.

After Dzsudzsak put Hungary 3-2 up, Ronaldo levelled matters with a header from close range.

With that jump that saw him rise highest, Portugal momentarily leapfrogged Iceland into second place in Group F. But a late goal for Iceland against Austria meant that Portugal have progressed as one of the four third-placed teams. They finished on three points with a goal difference of 0 - just like minnows Northern Ireland.

Bernd Storck's men, meanwhile, had their last-16 status confirmed after two games. This result was merely icing on the cake as they topped the group. It is a massive achievement for the rank outsiders. Yet somehow, Ronaldo was not to be overshadowed at the Stade de Lyon.

He started the day becoming the first player to play in 17 games at the continental tournament. Now, he - and Portugal - are guaranteed one more match.

Match highlights

- In the 19th minute, Hungary take the lead through Gera. Portugal half-clear a corner. The ball fell to Gera, who chested it before unleashing a left-footed half-volley from 25 yards. His powerful strike arrowed into the bottom right corner.

- Five minutes before half-time, Portugal won another corner. Ronaldo opted to take it short. He got the ball back and lifted a cross to the back post. Pepe, stretching, hooked the ball into the box and Nani finished off the move. But the linesman's flag was up as Pepe was offside.

- In the 42nd minute, Ronaldo took out three defenders with a weighted pass for Nani. The forward's timed his run down the left well, and his low, first-time shot went in at the near post.

- Two minutes later, Hungary striker Adam Szalai unleashed a dipping strike from over 30 yards out, and Rui Patricio saved.

- In the 47th minute, Dzsudzsak's free kick hits Andre Gomes in the four-man wall and sailed past Patricio.

- Portugal equalised three minutes later. Nani's cross into the box was behind Ronaldo, but the forward improvised brilliantly, backheeling the ball into the net.

- In the 55th minute, Dzsudzsak had a free kick from a similar position as when he scored. His effort hit the three-man wall and came back out to him. He took a couple of dribbles then unleashed a curler from the edge of the box. A double-deflection took the ball past Patricio.

- In the 62nd minute, Ronaldo headed past Gabor Kiraly from close range. Substitute Ricardo Queresma created the assist with his first touch after coming short for a corner and delivering an inch-perfect cross for his captain.

- In the 64th minute, Hungary counter-attacked. Akos Elek almost finished the move at the near post but his effort hit the woodwork.

The talking point

Ronaldo may have scored a brace but he cannot do it alone, particularly after cameras showed him massaging his thigh and grimacing in pain. He has to trust his team-mates. He did that when he decided to pass to Nani for Portugal's equaliser, instead of taking a long-range effort.

But when he tried to do it all in the 57th, when he had a team-mate in support, the move broke down. Substitute Renato Sanches drove forward and switched the play to the right. Joao Mario was better placed to get on the ball but Ronaldo got in his way. Both attempted went for the same ball and the move fizzled out.

The rise of the minnows at Euro 2016 have provided plenty of evidence on how the collective trumps the individual. Ronaldo, for all his genius, has to believe in his supporting cast.

Man of the Match

Ronaldo. He literally rose to the occasion. With the weight of a nation on his shoulders and on the back of criticism following disappointing in draws against Iceland and Austria, he responded in the best way possible. Portugal were a little unlucky to concede twice to Dzsudzsak, with both efforts deflected on their way in. But the Portuguese captain hauled his side back into it.

What the result means

Hungary will face the runners-up of Group E, which as things stand are Belgium. Portgual will take on Croatia, who stunned holders Spain on Tuesday.

Key statistic

Gera, 37 years and 61 days old, is the second oldest all-time goalscorer at the European Championship, after Austria's Ivica Vastic (38 years and 257 days).

What they said

Storck: "It's a big compliment for our team. We played better today than in the first two games. We knew it was going to be very hard, we had to play against a very organised team, we wanted to attack, to score. And even if Portugal came back and scored we attacked."