Euro 2012: Ronaldo double lifts Portugal past winless Dutch, Germans cruise

RonaldoEuroSmirk (Getty)

Cristiano Ronaldo had endured a rough European Championship tournament heading into Sunday's final group match against the Netherlands, but he picked the perfect time to wake up and start finding the net.

Ronaldo notched a pair of goals during a masterful performance to help lead Portugal to a 2-1 victory against the Netherlands that secured Portugal's place in the Euro quarterfinals.

The loss sent the highly-regarded Dutch crashing out of Group B with an 0-3 record, a team victimized by its own terrible defending, and by an offense that never generated the kind of production expected of it when the tournament began.

The Dutch got off to a strong start when Tottenham midfielder Rafael Van De Vaart scored a beautiful opening goal to give the Netherlands life, but Ronaldo responded with his own brilliant finish to equalize in the first half.

A draw would have been enough to see Portugal into the second round, but Ronaldo added a second goal just to be sure, latching onto a Nani pass before cooly finishing off the Dutch with a well-taken finish in the 74th minute.

Portugal will move on to the quarterfinals, where they will take on the Czech Republic on Thursday.

In the other Group B match on Sunday:

GERMANY DOWNS DANES TO TOP GROUP B

The German national team continued its march to the Euro finals by dispatching Denmark, 2-1, on Sunday.

Lars Bender provided the winning goal to give Germany a perfect 3-0 record in Group B, and to set the Germans up with a quarterfinal date against surprising Greece on Friday.

The Danes looked like they might have a surprise up their sleeve when tournament star Michael Krohn-Dehli equalized to cancel out an early Lukas Podolski strike, but that's as close as Denmark came, with the Germans dominating another opponent on their way to victory.

The loss ended Denmark's tournament, which began so promisingly after upsetting the Netherlands in the opening match. Ultimately, a squandered opportunity against Portugal in a match they could have won wound up dooming the Danes.

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What did you think of Sunday's matches? See Germany as the tournament favorites? Impressed with Portugal's ability to step up? See Ronaldo building on his two-goal game, or do you think he'll go quiet again?

Share your thoughts below.

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14 Responses to Euro 2012: Ronaldo double lifts Portugal past winless Dutch, Germans cruise

  1. Steve C says:

    The way the Dutch defense played, they would’ve gotten torn apart by MLS teams… let alone a Portuguese side featuring Nani & CR7.

    That was really tough to watch from a neutral standpoint.

  2. marco says:

    I don’t believe that such a great soccer nation Holland, cant produce better defenders. Those two FB’s are certainly of Bornstein quality.

  3. David says:

    “but that’s as close as Denmark came, with the Germans dominating another opponent on their way to victory.”

    I just can’t agree with that assessment of the game. The Danes were pushing and opened the second half with 2 great chances. The foul on Nicklas Bendtner should have been a red card and a penalty kick.

    Sure Germany had better possession, but Denmark was dangerous and was close to both progressing and even knocking German out.

  4. Mike says:

    I don’t know about this German domination of Denmark. Had the officials done their job, Germany probably would have lost. That decision to not award a penalty and red card was egregious. Denmark would have gone up a goal and a man with 20 minutes remaining.

  5. Kosh says:

    As the Dutch always remind us, this is a team sport. You can have all the names you want and even some on the bench, but if the 11 on the field fail to play for, fight for and hustle for each other then all you have is a bunch of big names – awesome individuals – but nothing that is close to a team.

    It’s a shame that the Dutch cannot learn from the Spanish (or even pick up from where they left off in SA in 2010) and put the little hissy fits aside and play as one. Nope, it’s back to the divisions and pissy little in-fighting. I’d respect it more if the guys with beef would just throw down in an old fashion fista-cuff and bury that crap once and for all. Knock that s*#t right out their systems and get it over with.

    Oh well, this is another embarrassment to add to the pile of misery that they continuously serve to their fans and to their nation, which sucks because they have awesome fans.

  6. Kosh says:

    Agreed, the Danes put up quite the challenge and while we can’t truly predict how it would have finally played out it’s hard to see Germany winning this one if that PK and red card call was made. That miscall came right out of the CONCACAF files for me.

  7. al17 says:

    I’m waiting to see how much of a negative effect this will have on the FIFA Ranking for the Netherlands seeing how this is a confederations tournament. They’ll finish as either the worst or 2nd worst team in this tournament dependent on what happens in the Ireland match today. Based on their performance in this tournament, they shouldn’t be in the Top 20 (my opinion).

  8. Kosh says:

    Based on what we are seeing here I have to ask (any takers on this one)…is it easier to qualify for a WC or the Euros in Europe than in anywhere else in the world or are the results of these Euros just a timing thing?

    I ask because you look at the Dutch who cruised through qualification only to suck a major one at the tourney itself. Now I get it that once you’re at the tourney you’re playing the best and it’s a whole other ball game. But I am asking about the qualification process itself. Is it easier for a top team to qualify in Europe than top teams in other confederations?

  9. biff says:

    Man, I agree with you on both counts. Germany looked bad last night, did not dominate Denmark at all. Ozil was a shadow of himself and even Schewinsteiger was having trouble delivering bad passes. And the Badstuber, p!sses me off so much to see him nonchalantly grabbing Bendtner’s jersey in the box and holding him back and then no call from the ref. That should have been a penalty with Badstuber red-carded. Bendtner was still able to reach the ball, but with Badstuber holding him back could not get much behind the shot and the ball dribbled into Neuer’s arms. A 1/4 step more and Bendtner would have put the ball into the net and Denmark would have been up 2-1 against. Or if a red card penalty, Denmark up 2-1 against a 10-man Germany with 20 minutes to go and pretty good chance to hold on for the win. Denmark played a great game except for the one big mistake on the Lars Bender goal, and that goal came less then two minutes after the Badstuber jersey pull, which I think shook up the team and they lost their concentration. Totally unfair for Denmark.

    It seems to me that Germany now is taking a cue from its FC Bayern players, who in the Champions League matches against Real Madrid were doing all sorts of unsportsmanlike play, handballs and jersey pulls in the box. Last night against Denmark, we see yet another blatant handball by Thomas Muller, but at least the ref this time called him on it (this time).

    What amazes me is that up to this point no news stories that I have seen on the Germany-Denmark game mentions the Badstuber action against Bendtner. From this point on in Euro 2012, coaches and players of Germany’s opponents should be letting refs before and during games to keep a sharp eye out for Germany cheaters. They will keep doing it as long as the refs turn a blind eye.

  10. Seriously? says:

    This is why I’m not quite ready to agree with all the proclamations in the press about Ronaldo finally turning the corner for the national team, or however you want to put it. Maybe he has, or maybe he just benefited from the terrible defense he was up against. People love to make instant judgments, let’s see how he does in the next game or two. One good game does not a tournament make, just ask the Russians.

  11. RK says:

    Simple numbers — 16 (or 14 + 2 hosts) for Euro, and fewer (13) for the WC.

    I would argue that the bottom teams that qualify for the Euro and better than the bottom teams that qualify for the WC. And we’re talking about 3 games vs. vetted competition — small sample size. I’m not going to bury the Dutch, just like I’m not going to declare that Greece is good.

  12. marco says:

    Agree, the blown call has kept Germany in the competition. Ref’s sometimes don’t call fouls in the box where the attacker gets off a shot. One of the officials must have seen the shirt pull.

  13. Bones says:

    Seems like the easiest place for a top team to qualify has to be CONCACAF, considering the US and Mexico have qualified for the last six and five WCs, respectively.

    I was actually kind of stunned to learn that Mexico has ever failed to qualify.

  14. ben in el cajon says:

    So, Lalas was right, huh? Oh well. I agree that Germany got away with a penalty, but they really dominated most of the game. The best the Danes could have hoped for was a draw, which wouldn’t have been good enough.