UEFA Euro 2016
Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon, France
Portugal booked their place in the 2016 UEFA European Championship Final after winning their first game inside 90 minutes of the competition to defeat Wales 2-0 at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon.
Second-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani ensured Portugal would progress into their first ever European Championship Final on foreign soil. The Seleção were runners-up to surprise victors Greece in 2004, where Portugal were hosts.
The match was deemed to be a head-to-head between Real Madrid teammates Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, but it was the former who made the headlines as he scored his ninth European Championship goal to equal Michel Platini’s record and become the competition’s joint top-scorer.
Portugal started well and went close in the 15th minute when Ronaldo found João Mário who surged forward before firing the ball just wide of the far-post.
Three minutes later, Wales went close when a Joe Ledley corner was pulled back to Bale whose first-time effort sailed just over the bar. Four minutes later, Wales went close again when Bale surged forward from his own half before unleashing a strike that Rui Patrício saved comfortably. Two minutes later, Wales had a good chance when Hal Robson-Kanu sent in a teasing cross that was headed over by Andy King via a deflection.
In the 43rd minute Portugal had a good chance when Adrien Silva sent in a teasing delivery into Ronaldo but he could only head wide under-pressure from James Chester.
After the break, Portugal were in the ascendancy and took the lead five minutes into the restart. A Portugal corner was taken short to Raphaël Guerreiro whose pin-point delivery was headed home powerfully past Wayne Hennessey by Ronaldo. The goal was his ninth goal overall in European Championship history, becoming the joint top-scorer of the competition after equalling Michel Platini’s record.
Portugal got a second in quick succession three minutes later when an attempted Ronaldo strike was diverted goalwards by Nani on the slide, who did well to stay onside.
After the hour-mark, Portugal went close to a third when a Ronaldo freekick looped onto the roof of the net in the 62nd minute.
Three minutes later Portual should have made it three when Nani fired an effort that deflected off Neil Taylor which forced Hennessey to parry the ball into the path of Mário who fired the follow-up inches wide, when he should have scored. Five minutes later, Portugal went close again when a Portuguese corner was met by José Fonte but his header was saved well by Hennessey.
Six minutes later, Wales went close when Bale audaciously fired an effort on the volley from-range but Patrício made a comfortable save.
A minute later, Portugal had a good chance to make it three when Bale lost possession to Danilo Pereira deep in his area, following a corner; the Porto midfielder surged forward before firing an effort that squirmed under Hennessey but the keeper claimed the loose ball on-the-line under-pressure from Nani.
Three minutes later, Wales went close to pulling a goal back when Bale cut inside to fire a swerving effort that Patrício was forced to palm away.
Five minutes later, Portugal should have put the game to bed when substitute André Gomes did well to shrug off his man before finding Ronaldo with a wonderfully weighted-pass, but his touch was slightly heavy and in his attempt to round Hennessey, he was forced wide by the keeper and fired wide into the side-netting from a tight-angle.
Wales tried to get a late consolation, but Portugal defended well and stood firm to hold on to earn a place in their second ever European Championship Final.
The result meant that Portugal progress into the European Championship Final, their second in the history of the tournament and their first outside Portugal. Their first was in 2004 where they were surprisingly beaten by under-dogs Greece. Portugal will play either Gremany or hosts France in the Final. Wales bow out of their first ever European Championship competition with their heads held high after a fantastic performance overall. Wales went the furthest of all the home-nations.