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Monday, June 18, 2012

2012 Ballon d’Or-Seeking Cristiano Ronaldo Silences Critics

Euro 2012 Day 10 Round Up –  Portugal Send the Dutch Flying Back Home as Germany Set Up a Quarterfinal Clash with Greece

The 10th day of the 2012 European championships saw one of the tournament’s top teams Holland suffer an embarrassing exit after failing to record a single point in three games.

The Dutch needed to win their last clash against Portugal and hope that Germany beat Denmark, as they did, to go through. Bert van Marwijk’s charges looked well on course to win the crucial tie with just 11 minutes on the clock when captain Rafael van der Vaart curled in a sublime effort from outside the area past Rui Patricio in the Portuguese goal.

The goal livened up the Seleccao and more so their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo who was at the center of some unrelenting pressure on the Dutch backline. The Real Madrid forward grabbed the equalizer in the 28th minute feeding off a Joao Pereira through ball before sliding it under the feet of Maarten Stekelenburg and into the net.

The clearest of chances of the remaining time fell to the Portuguese but Stekelenburg was equal to the task as the half ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

Portugal were deadly in counter attacks which became the source of their second and winning goal after the interval. With nearly quarter an hour left before the final whistle, Ronaldo, again, was on the receiving end of a through ball this time from Luis Nani. The 27-year-old beat his marker with relative ease before slotting the ball home to fire Portugal into the quarters and round off a luminous individual performance.

The win settled the puzzle on who would advance from Group B, rightly dubbed the “Group of Death”,  as the Portuguese were joined by Germany who ensured they are the only team with a 100% winning record from the group stages thanks a 2-1 win over Denmark. Lukas Podolski and Lars Bender scored either side of Michael Krohn Dehli’s strike for Denmark to give the Bavarians a perfect nine points.

The Dutch never really got going from the off and three loses from three matches marks their worst ever Euro performance since 1984 when they failed to get past the group stages.

The biggest winners of the night though were Portugal, but more so their top dog Cristiano Ronaldo. His world-class performance against the Oranje must have had many of his critics eat their humble pie. It was pure masterclass, full of energy, full of running and dribbling as he arguably played his best match in a Portuguese shirt on his way to becoming the Seleccao's all time leading goalscorer. A club form was produced at the international level against a team ranked No. 2 in the world.

A date with Czech Republic in the quarters awaits and it’s no rocket science that the southwestern Europeans will be favourites to conquer their Central European opponents. A win for Portugal masterminded by the captain will not only put the team to the quarters but will surely put Cristiano Ronaldo in pole to win the 2012 Ballon d’Or.   

And That's thesteifmastertake!!