Millennium Post

Quaresma header powers Portugal into Euro cup quarter-finals

The game was a tight battle where neither teams could produce much and in terms of statistics, none of the teams had even a single shot at goal.
After two goals in the previous match against Hungary, much was expected from the talisman Cristiano Ronaldo but he didn’t take a single attempt at the goal until the 117th minute where his shot paved way for the goal. 

It was touted to be a high energy contest but both the teams seemed very caged from the very beginning. The best chance of the first half came for Portugal in the 25th minute when Raphael Guerreiro’s cross from the free kick was headed over the bar by Pepe. 

Subsequently, Croatia did step up in their game and in the 33rd minute, Mario Mandzukic headed the ball wide. Again, after the break in the 52nd minute, Croatia came dangerously close to taking the lead when Marcelo Brozovic missed the opportunity to connect to a delicious cross by Ivan Strinic and Portugal put it out for a corner. Surprisingly, the Portugal defence was caught napping when Croatia took a quick corner and Brozovic’s strike went wide. 

Soon in the 61st minute, Croatia came close to scoring yet again when Vida headed wide from a well taken free kick. Just 3 minutes later, Portugal had a penalty shout when Nani, who recorded his 100th appearance for Portugal, seemed to be kicked from behind by Strinic but the appeal was dissolved by the referee. Just before full time, a spot on defensive trick from Pepe saved the day for Portugal. 

With the beginning of the extra time, Croatia found some spaces in the Portugal half but lacked the final touch just like the first 90 minutes of the game. 

Similarly, Portugal failed to make real chances and mostly worked through corners, which didn’t reap from them. 

In the second half of the extra time, Croatia seemed lively as they worked through the Portugal defence to set up chances. In the 115th minute, Vida missed an open net after Patricio had tripped following a corner. 

Following Vida’s miss, Kalinic came close to tapping the ball in. Immediately, Perisic’s header hit the post and Portugal broke out on a counter. Sanches took the ball upfield to pass it off to Nani who 
controlled the ball and put a cross towards Ronaldo on the right of the post. Ronaldo took a shot which was saved by Subasic but the ball lay off to Quaresma who headed it in comfortably. 

The goal in the dying minutes of the game assured Portuguese hopes of the competition while Croatian dreams came crashing down. 

Along with Poland and Wales, who qualified earlier in the day, Portugal advanced to the next stage and will face Poland in the quarters on July 1.
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