Having just reached the UEFA European Championship semi-finals for the second time in three attempts, it was no surprise to see Cristiano Ronaldo all smiles as he received his Carlsberg Man of the Match Award.
Portugal created a raft of chances against a dogged Czech Republic side in Warsaw but had to wait until the 79th minute for their breakthrough, Ronaldo's firm downward header from João Moutinho's cross finally beating the admirable Petr Čech. "We deserved to win," said the Portugal captain. "We created a lot of opportunities and hit the post a few times. We had lots of opportunities to score. Portugal played a fantastic match."
The Portugal skipper said his side had continued their good form from their last group match against the Netherlands – just as he had continued his own excellent run by notching his third goal in two games. "The team played really well," he said. "We were solid and cohesive. In the first 20 minutes we didn't play so well, but in the next 70 we controlled the game. We are very happy about that."
Part of the squad that reached the UEFA EURO 2004 final on home soil only to fall to Greece at the last, Ronaldo's ambitions do not end here. "Our goal is to get to the final," he said ahead of a last-four meeting with either Spain or France in Donetsk next Wednesday. "We know that we will face an amazing team in the semi-finals, but anything is possible."
The 27-year-old was presented with his award by another famous Real Madrid CF forward, Davor Šuker, who was happy to hand over the award to a man in whom he sees something of himself. "I'm a goalscorer and I like players who score goals," said the former Croatia striker. "Cristiano creates a lot of chances and scored a beautiful goal, so congratulations to him and congratulations to Portugal."
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