Match in a sentence
The world’s second best player Cristiano Ronaldo came to life tonight silencing his critics as his two goals have put Portugal into the quarter finals were they await the Czech Republic.
- It was simple both teams needed a win to have any chance of coming out of this group of death. Portugal’s line up was unchanged from the previous two group games that seen them lose to Germany and beat Denmark.
- Meanwhile, the Dutch who needed to win by two goals started with their usual 4-2-3-1 where we saw Rafael Van der Vaart replace Mark Van Bommel, Klass Jan Huntelaar replace Ibrahim Affelay and Ron Vlaar replace John Heitinga. Huntelaar played up top and Robin Van Persie played behind him pushing Wesley Sneijder to the left flank.
- The first 15 minutes were quite cagey but the Dutch were in firm control.It looked as if the Portuguese were going to approach this game the same way they did against Germany,because when Holland had possession there was always eight or nine men behind the ball.
- It only took 11 minutes for the game to come to life as Rafael Van der Vaart who was surprisingly the Dutch captain, cut in onto his left foot and hit venomous strike past Rui Patricio and into the goal.
- The goal was spectacular but Van Persie and Huntelaar’s movement dragged two Portuguese defenders out of position and freed up space for Van der Vaart to score such a fine goal. Cristiano Ronaldo was also to play villain on this goal, as just like the second Danish goal, his inability to drop back and defend allowed the Dutch to overload Fabio Coentrao.
- Albeit a couple of minutes of end to end attacks filled with last ditch tackles, the Portuguese like they did against the Germans responded well. They were able to grab the game by the throat and create chance after chance after chance. They were easily getting in behind this poor Dutch defence and we were just waiting for them to equalize.
- In the 28th minute it finally came when 18 year old Jetro Willems gave up possession in his own half and the Dutch allowed the Portuguese to string a few neat passes together before the ball got to Joao Pereira who sent in a magnificent ball to Cristiano Ronaldo who timed his run to perfection and calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net.
- Ronaldo was fantastic throughout the game, but was simply a man on a mission in the first half. He forced multiple saves from Maarten Stekelenburg, and provided many goal opportunities that his teammates couldn’t latch onto.
- The second half began and Holland coach Bert Van Marjwik tinkered with the squad as he pushed Arjen Robben to the left, Wesley Sneijder behind Huntelaar and Robin Van Persie to the right. It didn’t work, and I must say Arjen Robben was absolutely dreadful not only today but throughout the entire tournament.
- Since I’m touching on players, I have to admit I have a love/hate relationship for Pepe. Yet again was the Portuguese CB superb, as nothing got past him. At the same time his ignorant actions and his ability to be moronic at times is what ignites the hate. Nonetheless, he was magnificent yet again and a key component as to why Portugal are into the final eight.
- In the 67th minute Van Marwijk gambled knowing he needed to win this game and he brought on Afellay to replace Willems. This left the Dutch with three at the back and no left fullback.
- It took seven minutes for Portugal to make the Dutch pay as Van der Vaart conceded possession in his own half and the break was on. The Portuguese made no mistake as Nani found Ronaldo who cut right and struck it past Stekelenberg.
- Van der Vaart who captained today’s side (after saying it was run by favourites day’s before) was the Dutch’s only goal scorer and he also hit the post. Today, many witnessed why Van Bommel was chosen over him in big games. Although he does provide that attacking spark, he leaves too much space in the midfield for Nigel De Jong to cover and the impressive trio of Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles and Miguel Veloso simply dominated them today.
- The Dutch were winless in their three games at Euro 2012, for many of them they will remember their last time in an orange jersey as a disgrace. They were simply lethargic and albeit the Denmark game, they deserved everything they received. Whether there were problems in the dressing room, this team was always poor in defence, but going forward they were abysmal. The likes of Robben, Van Persie, Van Bommel, Van der Wiel didn’t live up to their bill. The much maligned Wesley Sneijder to be fair had a decent tournament but without Stekelenburg they would’ve been blown out by both the Germans and the Portuguese. The real loser here is their coach Van Marwijk who tried everything in his power to get this team to click and in result will most likely get fired.
- The Portuguese LIKE I PREDICTED, have finished second in the group of death and have made it to the knockout rounds of every major tournament since Euro 2004. They started off the game slow, but were brilliant on the night from the back to the front and will fancy their chances against the Czech Republic in their quarter-final tilt Thursday night. I believed this team would make it to the semi finals and they are one step closer to that achievement, where they can possibly meet Italy or Spain. They now have a few days to rest up before this tournament officially begins (not a fan of the group stage), and if they continue to play at this level it will be tough for any team to defeat them.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Joao Moutinho
Honourable mention goes out to Maarten Stekelenburg, Miguel Veloso, Joao Pereira.