Portugal 2-0 Wales
Two goals in the space of three minutes saw Portugal defeat Wales tonight to book their place in the final of EURO 2016. Cristiano Ronaldo soared above the Welsh defence to head Portugal into the lead with 50 minutes played before he sliced a shot from the edge of the box that found its way to Nani who slid it home to break Welsh hearts.
Both sides were forced to make changes tonight with James Collins and Andy King brought in to replace the suspended Welsh duo of Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davis. Portugal were without the injured center-back Pepe and the suspended William Carvalho with 34 year-old Bruno Alves introduced to the back four . It was Portugal who began the game on the front foot and Ronaldo certainly had a case when Collins grappled with the Real Madrid star inside the Welsh box. A well-worked set-piece presented Wales with their first opportunity, but the lively Bale fired over.
The Welsh superstar then forced Rui Patricio into his only save of the first-half, racing down the wing before skipping past the challenge of Danilo Pereira but he fired straight at the Portugal goalkeeper from the edge of the box. Having successfully shackled Ronaldo for the opening 44 minutes, the final chance of the half fell to the Portugal forward, but he headed wide at the back post under pressure from James Chester.
Ronaldo made no mistake five minutes after the interval. Portugal took a short corner with Raphael Guerreiro receiving the ball. The left-back whipped the ball into the box where Ronaldo had confused Chester with a jink before out jumping the West Brom man to power the ball past Wayne Hennessey in the Welsh goal.It was Ronaldo’s third goal of the competition and his ninth in European Championship history, drawing him level with Michel Platini for most all-time.
Wales barely had time to digest the first goal when Nani had the ball on the back of the net. Ronaldo dragged his shot from the edge of the area but it made its way to Nani who latched a foot onto it to double the Portuguese lead. A case can be made that Renato Sanches, who was in an offside position, interfered with play ball leaving the ball through his legs before Nani touched it home. A portion of the blame can also be given to Welsh captain Ashley Williams who stepped out of line giving Nani space to score. All in all it was a crushing blow.
Welsh manager Chris Coleman responded with a flurry of Welsh changes, bringing on Simon Church, Jonathan Williams and Sam Vokes, but his side struggled to trouble their opponents’ defence.Joao Mario squandered the chance to put Wales out of sight when his follow-up to an effort from Nani that was spilled by Hennessey whistled past the near post. Jose Fonte’s header forced a good save from the Crystal Palace keeper as Wales remained a live – just.
Bale twice tested Patricio with stinging efforts from distance as Wales searched in vain to find a way back into the match.Hennessey saved from Danilo and Ronaldo fired wide from a tight angle as Portugal saw out the closing stages for their first victory in normal time at EURO 2016.
The Welsh dream may be over but Coleman’s men can feel immensely proud of their achievement. They went down fighting tonight and honoured the motto of the nation ‘Together.Stronger.’ Ronaldo and his teammates match on to the final where they will face either Germany or France.
Man of the Match – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
- Andre Gomes replaces Renato Sanches 74 mins
- Joao Moutinho replaces Adrien Silva 79 mins
- Ricardo Quaresma replaces Nani 86 mins
- Sam Vokes replaces Joe Ledley 58 mins
- Simon Church replaces Hal Robson-Kanu 63 mins
- Jonathan Williams replaces James Collins 66 mins
Portugal – Bruno Alves,Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wales – Joe Allen,James Chester,Gareth Bale.