Euro 2016 round up: Poland 1 (3) Portugal 1 (5) - and what the result means

(From left) Portugal defender Pepe, defender Fonte and forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate the win.
(From left) Portugal defender Pepe, defender Fonte and forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate the win.PHOTO: AFP

Portugal could only draw matches in the group stage. In knockout games at Euro 2016, they cannot stop winning, although they needed a penalty shootout victory to see off Poland.

For a second match running, Portugal have come out on top without talisman Cristiano Ronaldo scoring after 120 minutes. This is no one-man team.

The Selecao - or selection - lived up to their name at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, with all five penalty takers converting from the spot to earn them a place in the semi-finals.

Portugal captain Ronaldo led from the front, and Renato Sanches, Joao Moutinho, Nani, and Richardo Quaresma followed suit. Not to be outdone, goalkeeper Rui Patricio saved Jakub Blaszczykowski's effort from 12 yards in what proved to be the penultimate penalty.

A team effort was needed for Portugal to overcome an early deficit.

After just 1 minute and 40 seconds at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, Robert Lewandowski fired Poland in front. In European Championship history, only Russia's Dmitri Kirichenko (after 67 seconds against Greece in 2004) has scored a faster goal.

When Portugal equalised in the 33rd minute, it was not through Ronaldo, their all-time record appearance maker with 131 caps. Instead, it was Sanches, a teenager making his first international start, that brought them level with a shot from the edge of the box.

At 18 years and 317 days young, Sanches is the third youngest scorer behind Switzerland's Johann Vonlanthen (18 years and 141 days) and England's Wayne Rooney (18 years and 237 days).

A star has been born, and Portugal's title hopes are growing.

Match highlights

- In the 2nd minute, Cedric misjudged the bounce of a crossfield ball, allowing Kamil Grosicki to get in behind him on the left flank. The midfielder delivered a low cross into the box and Lewandowski sidefooted the ball in from 12 yards out.

- In the 17th minute, Arkadiusz Milik fed Lewandowski, who managed to escape from Pepe. His low angled drive inside the box, however, was held by Patricio at the near post.

 

- Portugal registered their first shot on target in the 28th minute. Ronaldo had a clear sight at goal but his tame effort from 25 yards out was straight at Lukasz Fabianski.

- Two minutes later, Ronaldo was pushed off the ball by Michal Pazdan. The forward appealed for a penalty but the referee ignored him.

- In the 33rd minute, Nani backheeled the ball to Sanches. The teenager took a touch with his right foot, unleashed a shot from outside the box with his left, and a deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak took the ball past Lukasz Fabianski.

- In the 56th minute, Nani played Ronaldo in with a through ball. The forward ignored Joao Mario in the centre and hit the side netting from a tight angle.

- Four minutes later, Ronaldo had an air shot following a low cross from Eliseu on the left wing. The ball came out to Adrien Silva, whose shot was charged down by Krychowiak.

- In the 69th minute, Artur Jedrzejczyk's cross was met by Milik at the near post. The forward flicked the ball towards goal but Patricio saves.

- In the 82nd minute, Pepe won the ball in Poland's half and drove forward. He tried to play Ronaldo in. Jedrzejczyk slid in to intercept and nearly conceded an own goal. Nothing came out of the corner.

- Four minutes later, substitute Moutinho chipped the ball over the Poland backline. Ronaldo, with no defender close to him, failed to make contact with the ball from 10 yards out after it dropped over his shoulder.

The talking point

The goals dried up for Poland when they needed them most. They have still have not managed to score more than once in a Euro game. They were the top-scoring country (33 goals) in qualifying, with the top-scoring individual (Lewandowski, with 13), but managed just four goals in five games at Euro 2016. They never trailed for a single second at the continental showpiece but were on the wrong side of a penalty coin toss.

Man of the Match

Sanches. The box-to-box midfielder was abundle of energy and it is no wonder Bayern Munich agreed to pay Benfica €35 million (S$52.33 million) in May for the teenager, with the fee possibly rising to €80 million.

He was particularly outstanding in the first half, touching the ball more times than any other player (50). He also attempted more passes than any of his team-mates (35), with the highest accuracy (94.3%) in the side. In addition, he scored the crucial equaliser and took a nerveless penalty during the shootout.

What the result means 

Portugal will face either Wales or Belgium on Wednesday for a place in the final. Midfielder William Carvalho will miss the semi-final after picking up another yellow card on Thursday.

Poland can draw plenty of positives from this Euro campaign after reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

Key statistic

Portugal have reached the semi-finals in four of the last five European Championships.

What they said

Sanches: "We conceded very early but we believed until the end, we tried our best. The move for the goal turned out that way, but the team has been playing well, we are very confident so we will keep on trying to play our best." 

Poland manager Adam Nawalka: "It's definitely a tough moment for us. The players put a lot of heart into this match and played bravely throughout this tournament. We haven't lost a match at the tournament - we were knocked out on penalties. We have to look with optimism to the future and the (World Cup) qualifiers."