Poland 1 v 1 Portugal AET (Portugal win 5 v 3 on Pens) – Euro 2016 Quarter Final

POL 1:1 POR (3:5 Pens) – Le Nouveau Stade Vélodrome in Marseille was the glamorous setting for the first highly anticipated quarter final of Euro 2016. The Poles have built their tournament run on a rock solid defence, which has only conceded one goal so far, and that was Xherdan Shaqiri‘s sensational acrobatic strike for Switzerland. Portugal have been dire so far, lucky to qualify from their group after three uninspiring draws, and somehow criminally sneaking a win against a dominant Croatia in the first knockout round. It didn’t take long for The White Eagles to show their superiority. A sweeping diagonal ball from Kamil Glik catches Cédric Soares out of position and finds winger Kamil Grosicki. The Stade Rennais FC star brilliantly picks out his captain Robert Lewandowski, who smashes the ball past Rui Patricio to give his side the lead. Adam Nawałka‘s side should have doubled their lead moments later – an incisive ball from Grzegorz Krychowiak found Krzysztof Mączyński free inside the penalty area, but his cross was scuffed behind Lewandowski. Portugal appealed for a penalty after Legia Warszawa‘s Michał Pazdan leant on the back of Cristiano Ronaldo but the Portuguese captain went down far too easily. Catapulted into the starting line up after some impressive displays off the bench, Sport Lisboa e Benfica‘s wonderkid Renato Sanches provided the spark an ailing Portugal needed – picking up the ball on the edge of the box, cutting inside and drilling a shot that luckily deflected off Krychowiak and flew past a stranded Łukasz Fabiański into the corner of the net. A perfectly balanced game at half time. Both teams struggled to get in behind the other in a more cagey affair after the break, resorting to efforts from well outside the box – Cedric’s 25 yard screamer flying wide of the diving Fabianski’s post the best of them. Sevilla FC‘s cultured playmaker Grzegorz Krychowiak was the best player on the pitch by a country mile, and his intricate play set up a chance for AFC Ajax‘s Arek Milik, who couldn’t force his shot past Patricio at the near post. The Poles controlled possession but Portugal looked threatening on the break. Ronaldo failed to make contact with a beautiful lofted ball into the box from substitute João Moutinho as the game went to extra time. A laborious 30 minutes ensued as two tired teams failed to show any real quality when it mattered in the final third. Penalties! The unfortunate Kuba Błaszczykowski saw his penalty superbly saved one-handed by Patricio and the Poles go out. The Poles never trailed in a game at this tournament, Portugal failed to win any game in 90 minutes. So, of course this result was going to happen. The Portuguese are unlikely semi-finalists and have Pepe to thank for a remarkable defensive display.

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