A spellbinding two-goal display from Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo helped his country into the quarter-finals and saw him scoop the Carlsberg Man of the Match award.
Ronaldo's double in the 2-1 win against the Netherlands in Kharkiv means he has now scored in three successive UEFA European Championships. The team's talisman had been wasteful with golden chances against Denmark last time out but was back to his brilliant best to spearhead the Portuguese charge into the last eight.
Accepting the award, the 27-year-old refused to hog the spotlight in the way he had on the pitch. "It is a great pleasure to receive the prize on behalf of the whole team," he said. "The team was spectacular and the team is to be congratulated. We have succeeded in our great aim of qualifying for the quarter-finals. The team deserves this qualification, because we believed in it until the end. We'll play the Czech Republic and it's going to be hard. It's 50-50 and we will have to respect them."
Should Ronaldo carry this form into the next round then Michal Bílek's will have to be at their defensive best to stop him. The Real Madrid CF forward could have scored four or five times, hitting the post twice as well as being thwarted by Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who produced fine saves from a first-half header and an exceptional swerving, dipping effort from distance. Having failed to muster a single effort on target in his first two UEFA EURO 2012 appearances, Ronaldo directed five attempts on goal against the Dutch, in addition to the two that struck the post.
A euphoric Ronaldo will remember 17 June 2012 for more reasons than one. He revealed: "I'm very happy because today is also my son's birthday." His two-year-old child, Cristiano, will no doubt one day become better acquainted with the footage of his father producing one of the great EURO displays; one that left former French international Christian Karembeu with a straightforward decision to award him the accolade of the game's outstanding player.
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