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|Ronaldo steers Portugal into last eight|
|Sunday, 17 June 2012 20:45|
KHARKIV (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals as Portugal deservedly beat the Netherlands 2-1 yesterday to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 and eliminate the Dutch, beaten World Cup finalists two years ago.
In an open and entertaining game, Ronaldo cancelled out Rafael van der Vaart's early opener for the Dutch with a 28th minute equalizer and hit the winner 16 minutes from time as Portugal went through as runners-up behind Germany.
They next face the Czech Republic on Thursday in Warsaw.
Portugal captain Ronaldo, criticized for his performances in their opening two matches, was outstanding and could have easily scored four as his side dominated their listless opponents.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk shook up his starting eleven after opening losses to Denmark and Germany, looking to Ron Vlaar to add steel to the back line, Van der Vaart to create in the middle and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to spice up the attack.
His changes paid off initially with the Dutch scoring after 11 minutes through Van der Vaart who superbly curled his left-foot shot just inside the post beyond the reach of Rui Patricio for his 19th international goal on his 99th appearance.
The Dutch were on top for the next 15 minutes but man of the match Ronaldo gave a warning of what was to come when he hit the outside of Maarten Stekelenburg's right-hand post in the 16th.
But the flying winger made no mistake just before the half hour when left-back Jetro Willems gave the ball away cheaply to Miguel Veloso who started the move that led to the equalizer.
The final ball from Joao Pereira was weighted perfectly for Ronaldo who timed his run to beat the offside trap and score in characteristic style to become the first Portuguese player to find the net in five major tournaments.
Portugal dominated the rest of the half and Ronaldo went close to giving them the lead after 34 minutes with a header that went just wide.
The Dutch looked static and dispirited until the break but, needing a goal to have any chance of surviving, increased the tempo in the second half.
However, after Helder Postiga had a goal disallowed for offside, Ronaldo wrapped up the victory after a superb break 16 minutes from time and even had time to hit the post late on.
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