You just canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t keep
Real MadridÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sorry, Manchester UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cristiano Ronaldo out of the news. On the day that his national manager was unveiled as the new manager of Chelsea, he played a big part in the fifth day of Euro 2008 which saw the two first day winners and the two first day losers take each other on.
In the early game, the Portuguese, so impressive in their easy victory over Turkey, were up against sterner opposition in the Czech Republic, who had been less than impressive when defeating Switzerland.
The game started in the manner that most people would have predicted when Deco gave Portugal an eighth minute lead. However, that lead lasted only nine minutes until the impressive Sionko netted an equaliser for the Czechs.
Chances at both ends followed in the remainder of the first half with neither side really dominating or getting a grip on the game. Portugal were finding it much harder to open up the well organised Czech side than they had in the game against Turkey.
In the second half Portugal started to gain control but chances still fell to the Czechs most notably when skipper Ujfalusi headed narrowly wide from a dangerous corner.
As Portugal started to create more chances a goal seemed to be becoming more and more likely and in the sixty-third minute when the referee played an excellent advantage, it allowed Deco to square the ball across the Czech area for Cristiano Ronaldo, who else, to hit home a powerful low drive past the helpless Petr Cech.
Once they went behind the Czechs gradually started to get back into the game and they came reasonably close on a few occasions but never quite looked capable of getting the elusive equaliser.
As the game entered injury time the Czech Republic committed players forward in a desperate bid to find the all important equaliser and when they lost the ball Cristiano Ronaldo was left with a clear run on goal. The mercurial number seven unselfishly squared the ball to set up substitute Quaresma to slide the ball into the empty net to make the score 3-1 and to all but confirm PortugalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s appearance in the quarter-finals.
Although the Czechs will be disappointed, they still feel that they can beat Turkey at the weekend and progress as the runners up of this group.
The second game of day five saw the co-hosts Switzerland in a must win game against Turkey. In a first half played in torrential rain the game gradually descended into farce as the pitch became so wet that the ball simply wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t run along the ground. As the pitch became more and more dangerous the referee was faced with a difficult decision. I feel sure that a league game would have been abandoned.
The Swiss coped much better with the awful conditions as their longer game was more suited to the pond they were playing on than was TurkeyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intricate passing game. A long ball from Philippe Senderos led to the only goal of the first half when Eren Derdiyok latched onto the pass and squared the ball across the goal. The ball stopped in the puddle and Hakan Yakin tapped the ball into the empty net to send the home fans wild.
Semih Senturk equalised for Turkey early in the second half when we had the tournamentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first really dodgy piece of goalkeeping. Nihat sent over a cross from the left and Semih headed the ball goalwards but Benaglio had to save it. Unfortunately for the Swiss, all he could do was parry the ball into the net.
The home sideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hopes and ambitions were completely extinguished when Arda Turan got sent away down the right and cut in before shooting from twenty yards. It took a heavy deflection off Valon Behrami and looped over the keeper and into the net. It was absolute heartbreak for the Swiss and their manager Kobi Khun. It really was a cruel way to lose and become only the second host nation after Belgium to fail to qualify out of the group stages of the Euros.
The result was a little hard on the host nation but after the conditions dried out a little in the second half Turkey were definitely the better side. Having said that, Turkey keeper Volkan must have been close to being the man of the match.
So there were no real surprises on day five. Portugal confirmed their credentials as potential tournament winners and Switzerland confirmed the fears of their fans that they were just not good enough. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether the knowledge that Scolari is leaving to manage Chelsea after the tournament will have any effect on the Portuguese team.
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