Portugal stay cool from the spot to eliminate Poland in shoot-out

Portugal reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 Thursday as they secured a dramatic 5-3 spot-kick win over Poland following a 1-1 draw in Marseille.

Keeper Rui Patricio saved Jakub Blaszczykowski's fourth kick for Poland and Ricardo Quaresma slammed home the winner to ensure there was no repeat of Poland's shoot-out success over Switzerland which had carried them into the quarter-finals.

Earlier Poland's Robert Lewandowski had ended his goal drought with a smart finish inside two minutes only for teenage midfielder Renato Sanches, who was man of the match, to level with a deflection before the break.

Portugal await either Wales or Belgium in the first semi-final which is played in Lyon on Wednesday.

"We did well, we played on the front foot and had the better chances, even if Poland had a few as well," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "I think we won fair and square against a very good team."

Poland made the dream start after only 100 seconds when Portugal full-back Cedric was caught out by the bounce of a cross-field pass and Kamil Grosicki pounced to break clear. His cross from the left was guided just inside the near-post by Lewandowski for his first goal of the tournament.

It also ended a seven-game international scoring drought for the Bayern Munich forward and was said to be the second-fastest ever at a Euros by UEFA.

Ronaldo, trying to match Michel Platini's record tally of nine goals at Euros finals, became involved around the half-hour mark as a weak shot was held and a penalty appeal was turned down following a clumsy barge from Michal Pazdan.

"I think the referees have been very good so far ... but it's true they didn't whistle for two penalties, it could have been very bad for Portugal," Santos said.

Portugal levelled in the 33rd when Sanches received Nani's backheel to complete a one-two and fired home from the edge of the box with the aid of a deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak for his first international goal.

It was a deserved reward for Lewandowski's future club team-mate as he was Portugal's best player in the first half.

"I think it was an amazing moment, I felt very happy," Sanches said. "I didn't really expect it but I managed to score and I'm very happy.

Returning from the interval, the tempo decreased with both sets of players seemingly aware another mistake would send them home.

"It's definitely a tough moment for us, a difficult one," Poland coach Adam Nawalka said. "The players put a lot of heart into this match, they were playing bravely in the tournament.

"We haven't lost a match, we were put out on penalties. It's a great disappointment but we must be optimistic for future."

Portugal were fractionally the more dangerous as Ronaldo found the side-netting when he should have crossed to Joao Mario and minutes later had a fresh-air swipe at Nani's cut-back.

In a rare Poland attack, the otherwise quiet Arkadiusz Milik had a near-post flick saved by Patricio before Artur Jedrzejczyk had an enormous let off at the other end, as his clearing tackle dribbled narrowly past the post.

Substitute Joao Moutinho chipped a lovely pass over the defence but again Ronaldo's eye was out as he failed to connect for what would surely have been the winning goal with five minutes remaining in regulation time.

The last action of the 90 minutes saw William Carvalho commit a cynical tug on Krychowiak to earn a yellow card which ruled him out of the semi-final.

Ronaldo's woeful game continued with a third miskick when a goal seemed certain from just six-yards out and, other than a pitch-invader briefly interrupting proceedings, that was the only real action in the extra period.

Ronaldo, Sanches, Moutinho and Nani all converted cool penalties for Portugal while Lewandowski, Milik and Kamil Glik did likewise for Poland.

Patricio then threw himself to his left to parry Blaszczykowski's placed kick and Quaremsa, who scored the extra-time winner against Croatia in the last 16, fired Portugal into the last four.

"It's a lottery but you have to be brave and have strength of character," Santos said. "I told my players to rest easy because I knew they'd score."

Last update: Fri, 01/07/2016 - 02:43

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