Czech Republic (Sionko 17′) 1-3 Portugal (Deco 8′, Ronaldo 63′, Quaresma 90′)
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Stade de Geneve, Switzerland
Euro 2008, Group A
Kickoff: 18:00 CET
Portugal beat the Czech Republic 3-1 to take the lead in Group A. Check out our live coverage below…
Czech Republic: Cech, Jankulovski, Ujfalusi, Rozehnal, Grygera, Sionko, Galasek, Plasil, Polak, Matejovsky, Baros.
Subs: Blazek, Koller, Skacel, Jarolim, Kovac, Vlcek, Sivok, Pospech, Sverkos, Zitka, Kadlec, Fenin
The Czechs are missing Tomas Rosicky, their main playmaker, but they have plenty of offensive firepower, a solid defense, and the best goalkeeper in the world. Koller, the giant striker who makes Peter Crouch look like a midget, is on the bench for the Czechs. Look for him to come in, especially if the team falls behind. They also have Vaclav Sverkos, who scored the goal in the opening match against Switzerland.
Portugal: Ricardo, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Ferreira, Pepe, Petit, Deco, Simao, Ronaldo, Moutinho, Gomes.
Subs: Postiga, Meira, Quim, Miguel, Quaresma, Ribeiro, Almeida, Meireles, Alves, Nani, Veloso, PatrÃcio.
No changes from the first match. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Scolari likes the 4-5-1, although, he’s putting a lot offensive-minded midfielders onto the pitch. I guess he’s fallen out of love with the 4-2-3-1. Then again, he can always bring in Mireles or Veloso if he needs to sit on a lead. They can also bring Nani off the bench if they need speed or someone to taunt the Czechs with fancy dribbling or other showboat tactics.
Cristiano Ronaldo is waving his arms and loosening up. Surely this means that he’s waving farewell to Manchester United and loosening up his ties to Sir Alex Ferguson, right?
Two Greek officials in this match. I wonder how Portugal feels about that…
1′ And we’re off. Czechs kick off.
2′ Ronaldo gets his first touch and he’s doing the stepover. Will he be stepping over to Real Madrid?
3′ Sionko with an opening, but Pepe blocks the long-distance effort. Back the other way and Ronaldo with the long-distance shot, but Grygera blocks it.
6′ Both teams are still feeling each other out. Portugal is doing a good job keeping possession. Ronaldo on the attack, but good defense to deny him.
7′ GOAL! Ronaldo breaks loose into the box with a pretty stepover and brings out Cech. Cech stops him, but the ball trickles to Deco. Cech impedes him, but Deco is too strong and keeps his balance to score the opener. Nice goal. Can’t blame Cech for that one. He did all he could on that sequence.
8′Jankulovski comes back the other way and has a good chance, but he shanks it off his left foot. Bad effort from Jankulovski. Then again, they don’t pay him to score goals.
12′Jankulovski sends in a pass towards Baros, but it’s too long for the Pompey striker. This would be a great time for the Czechs for Baros to get off the schnide. He’s beyond overdue for a goal.
14′Petit with a long-range shot, but Cech saves it easily.
15′Grygera sends in a nice cross, but Baros’ header is too high. Sionko then makes a dangerous run past Pepe and crosses into the box. Luckily for the Portuguese, no Czechs are there.
16′GOAL!!! Corner kick results in a beautiful Sionko header that beats Ricardo. Terrible marking by the Portuguese, and the Czechs are rewarded for their persistence and poise.
18′Bosingwa, the new Chelsea signee, with a nice entry pass to Deco, who’s been linked to Chelsea. Will this become a regular occurrence at Stamford Bridge next season?
20′Petit with another optimistic long-distance shot that is actually a lot closer to the mark than anyone expected.
22′ We have our first booking as Polak takes Pepe out. That was a pretty dangerous-looking tackle.
23′Ronaldo is on the right-side now, as he and Simao have switched. Surely, this means that Ronaldo is going to switch teams, right? Meanwhile, Deco creates some space outside the box and fires a shot at the goal that goes over the crossbar. Good effort, though.
24′Ronaldo then makes another run towards the box and fires from long distance. Cech easily saves it, and I’m sure these two are sick and tired of seeing each other on the pitch. Hmm… Portugal is taking a lot of long-range shots, aren’t they? Cech does have games where he’ll mishandle the ball. Maybe they know something about Cech that we don’t.
27′ Petit goes down and is clutching his hand in pain. Good thing he isn’t a goalkeeper.
28′ Corner for the Czechs, and Ricardo completely misjudges the trajectory of the ball. Sionko has a chance to put it in, but he can’t handle the ball. Portugal clears, and they’ve dodged a major bullet.
30′ Bosingwa gets carded as he takes down Galasek. If this were a Chelsea match, then John Terry, Michael Ballack, and Ashley Cole would be yelling at the ref right now.
34′ Ronaldo sends it to Ferreria, who sends in an enticing cross into the box. The Czechs clear and they’re on the break. Baros with a great run into the box, but a poor cross allows Bosingwa to clear it.
37′ Carvalho fouls Baros, but the ensuing free kick is for naught. Well, Baros has been involved. Can’t fault him for his effort.
38′ Moutinho with a poor cross into the box that Cech easily handles. Moutinho’s been largely invisible so far. Maybe this is what he needs to get going.
40′ Simao whips a cross into the box to win a corner. On the ensuing corner, they go short and Carvalho ends up with it. His effort amounts to nothing, though.
41′ Cech makes a great save on a Ronaldo screamer. Portugal comes back with another opportunity, but Cech puts a stop to that.
43′ Ronaldo takes a shot to the face and is down. A few other guys on each side go down as well. See? Flopping really is contagious…
45′ We have about a minute of added time. Ferreria is back on the pitch and is wearing a brand new jersey. Why he wanted a clean jersey so close to halftime is beyond me. He’s got blood streaming onto his face, though and heads to the sidelines. Portugal gets a free kick, and we know who’s taking this one. Ronaldo with a diving kick that Cech handles. That’s it for the half.
So, an entertaining first half comes to an end. Both teams have a lot to be happy about and, right now, 1-1 is a fair score. Will there be any changes in the second half?
At the end of the half, Baros was looking pretty frustrated over his lack of support. Maybe we could see Koller come in?
46′ Portugal kicks off. Pepe wins a corner after he takes it away from Baros. Nothing doing on the corner, though.
47′ Matejovsky springs Sionko who makes a great run into the box and sends a dangerous cross towards Baros. Bosingwa knocks it out for the corner. Great play by Sionko.
49′ Portugal wins a corner, but the Czechs are on the break. Portugal gets it back and Ronaldo gets stopped again. To his credit, though, he gets back up and continues to play. He needs to do more of that and less of the sulking, in my humble opinion.
52′ Great sequence from Portugal as Simao gets mauled outside the box, but keeps his balance and chips it to Gomes. Gomes gets free, but can’t put any power on his shot, and Cech saves it easily.
54′ Rozenhal gives it away to Gomes in the box, and has a great opportunity. Rozenhal recovers, though, and concedes the corner. Nothing doing on the corner, though. Portugal has been surprisingly bad on their corners today. Rozenhal’s been in poor form lately. I’m surprised Portugal hasn’t gone at him more.
56′Plasil gets a free kick, but the Portugal defense is up to the task. Back the other way, Deco threads a great thru-ball to Simao. Cech with a great save to bail out his defense. The back line certainly isn’t doing Cech any favors today.
59′ Bosingwa sends in a good pass to Simao, and Simao has room to get off a shot on Cech. Once again, Cech saves. Portugal on the attack again, and the ball bounces to Ronaldo. Ronaldo with the roundhouse, but he doesn’t get enough of it. Cech again makes the save. Portugal’s knocking on the door here. Will they be rewarded with the go-ahead goal?
61′ Sionko threatens again, but Carvalho concedes the corner. Plasil whips in the corner and it finds Jankulovski’s head. He nearly makes 2-1.
62′ GOAL! Bosingwa sends it in to the box, but the Czechs clear. Portugal gets it back and Deco makes a nice move on the left wing and sends it to Ronaldo in the middle of the box. Ronaldo with a lightning strike that beats his nemesis, Cech. Great strike by Ronaldo. You could see the goal coming for Portugal.
65′ Jankulovski takes a free kick that confuses Ricardo once again. Grygera doesn’t get a clean shot at the ball, and it’s easily blocked.
67′ Pepe has an opportunity, but he’s offsides. Wow. There really haven’t been too many offsides violations in this match. Either these two teams are doing a great job at staying onsides, or the refs are so confuses as a result of Van Nistelrooy incident that they’re afraid to do anything. Meanwhile, Matejovsky is off and Vicek is on for the Czechs.
68′ Jankulovski sends in a free kick that’s too deep for his men. Ricardo handles it easily this time.
69′ Great chance for the Czechs. Grygera sends in a deep cross to Plasil. Plasil with a great header towards Baros, but the Portugese recover and clear it.
72′ Galasek comes off and here comes Koller. Can the big man do any damage for the Czechs?
74′Moutinho comes off for Portugal and Fernando Meira comes in for defensive purposes. Looks like Portugal will try and sit on this lead. Deco goes down outside the box and this should be a good opportunity for Ronaldo. If he hits it, he’ll stay at Man U., if not, he’ll go to Real Madrid. Oh wait, it’s Simao that takes it. I guess we’re in for another month of questions without any answers regarding Ronaldo…
77′ Baros with the header that goes wide. Sionko was there as well and probably had a better shot at the goal. Sionko is not happy and gives his teammate an earful.
78′ Hugo Almeida comes in for the captain, Gomes. Gomes gives the armband to Ronaldo. Don’t worry, I’m done making jokes about Ronaldo.
79′Quaresma comes in for Simao, and that’s all of Portugal’s subs. Looks like Nani won’t be getting in this game. I’m sure he’s sulking on the bench as we speak.
82′ Sionko with a great opportunity as he gets a wonderful cross from Grygera. Sionko heads it slightly over the crossbar, though. Sionko’s had a great game, but he couldn’t convert there.
84′ Koller runs towards Ricardo does a kung-fu kick in his direction. Now Ricardo knows how opposing centers feel when they see Shaq.
85′ Plasil comes off for Jarolim. The Czechs need to make something happen.
88′ Quaresma with a great run into the box, but he hits the side of the net. Meanwhile, back the other way and Koller gets a free kick. Jankulovski swings it into the box, but Ricardo makes a great save. There were three red shirts around him.
89′ Great run by Baros who sends it towards Koller. The giant sends it to Sionko, but Sionko can’t convert. Was that their last chance?
90′ GOAL! Game over. Portugal gets a free kick and the quick restart catches the Czechs napping. Ronaldo breaks towards Cech and gets him to commit. Ronaldo then slots it to Quaresma for the easy goal. There’s going to be about three minutes of stoppage time, but the Czechs look like they’ve been punched in the gut. Sure enough, they don’t get any good chances, and the ref blows the whistle. It’s all over!
All in all, it was an entertaining game that more than lived up to its hype. Portugal deservedly got the three points and look poised to advance to the next round. Ronaldo showed why he’s the best player in the world, but make no mistake about it, this was a team effort. The Portuguese defended better, they generated more chances, and they were more dangerous on the attack. They didn’t do so well in midfield, as the Czechs did a great job winning the ball, especially in the first half. But, otherwise, there isn’t much to complain about if you’re Luis Scolari.
The Czechs have some questions to answer, especially on defense since Petr Cech can’t do it all by himself. They had chances to score, but they squandered a lot of opportunities. With their inability to provide consistent service to Baros, they might need to adjust their lineup for the next match. Whether the Czechs bounce back will go a long way towards seeing whether they’re for real or not.