With each passing game, Cristiano Ronaldo’s influence on Euro 2012 grows and one of the planet’s supreme talents hauled his team into the last four with one of the most spellbinding individual performances of the competition so far.
There are those who insist that, for all his remarkable gifts, Ronaldo remains a player who too often fails to bring his best game to the most important international occasions. Much more of this and people will not be saying that again.
On the money: Cristiano Ronaldo wheels away after hitting the winner
On a night when Portugal’s dominance of a weak Czech Republic team was so absolute as to be almost embarrassing, his team-mates’ wastefulness must have irritated Ronaldo beyond belief.
He is, after all, not a young man known for his patience.
Ultimately, however, Ronaldo proved too good, his combination of technical genius and insatiable desire just too much for a Czech side who somehow managed to take this game to within nine minutes of extra time.
Ronaldo had already struck the post twice as normal time neared its conclusion.
Once with an outrageous piece of skill in the first half and again with one of those dipping, swerving toe-end free-kicks that he has made his trademark in recent years.
Great players don’t drop their standards because things don’t go their way, though, and Ronaldo appeared at the far post to score a goal any of the great centre forwards in world football would have been proud of.
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The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|