Portugal 2-1 Czechia: Chico Conceicao’s Late Winner Saves Cristiano Ronaldo’s Blushes In EURO 2024 Opener

Ronaldo Portugal
Ronaldo Portugal

Portugal, one of the favorites for the 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024), kicked off their campaign against Group F rivals Czechia at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig on Tuesday night (June 18). Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and Rafael Leao all featured in the high-voltage clash, but the EURO 2016 winners could not live up to expectations. It took a last-gasp tap-in from 21-year-old substitute Chico Conceicao to save Portugal’s blushes and secure a 2-1 victory on the rain-soaked Leipzig pitch.

Portugal Hero Chico Conceicao Breaks Czechia’s Hearts In Injury Time

Buoyed by their superstars, Portugal enjoyed a confident start to the game. They moved the ball around with ease, trying to stretch Czechia to make room down the middle. Ronaldo strictly operated in and around the box, with Leao and Silva covering the wings.

Portugal created their first goalscoring opportunity in the 32nd minute, with Fernandes playing an inch-perfect through ball for Ronaldo. The 39-year-old made a superb run to create the opening but could not beat the Czechia goalkeeper from close range. Even if he had beaten him, the goal would have been chalked out for offside. Just before the half time, the Al-Nassr star had another go at goal, but his left-footed shot went straight to the goalkeeper, allowing him to parry it away.

Having kept Martinez’s men at bay in the first half, Czechia drew first blood 17 minutes into the second 45. Vladimir Coufal laid the ball off to Lukas Provod just outside the Portuguese box, and the No. 14 dispatched a gem of a strike to find the back of the net. Unfortunately, Czechia’s jubilation was short-lived, as Robin Hranac’s unfortunate own goal restored parity just seven minutes later.

After equalizing, Portugal piled men forward in search of the winner, and in the 87th minute, Diogo Jota seemingly found it. After Ronaldo directed his header at the post, the Liverpool man latched onto the rebound and tucked it away to fire Portugal in front. However, the VAR spoiled Portugal’s party after it caught Ronaldo in an offside position in the build-up.

Five minutes later, substitute Conceicao restored sent Portugal fans into pandemonium, latching on to Pedro Neto’s obstructed cross and tapping the ball home from close range. After the final whistle, he celebrated with Ronaldo, with the legendary No. 7 giving him a big hug for saving the day.

Cristiano Ronaldo Had A Decent Outing In EURO 2024 Opener

Portugal skipper Ronaldo could not score against Czechia, but it was not for a lack of trying. The ex-Real Madrid and Manchester United superstar made clever runs all night long, linked up with his teammates, and created a couple of goalscoring opportunities.

In the Group F opener, Ronaldo completed all 22 of his attempted passes, created two chances, tested the goalkeeper three times, and made two recoveries. Portugal fans, however, expect more from their talisman. They want him to add to his record career tally. It will be interesting to see if Ronaldo answers their prayers in Portugal’s next outing against Turkiye on Saturday (June 22).

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