Substitute Ricardo Quaresma turned in a rebound three minutes from the end of extra time as Portugal edged a tense encounter with Croatia to book a UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-final date with Poland.
After 116 minutes in which the teams failed to muster a single shot on target, Ivan Perišić headed against the upright. Portugal immediately broke through Renato Sanches and he supplied Nani to drill a low ball across the box to Cristiano Ronaldo. Danijel Subašić made the initial save but could only parry Ronaldo's strike as far as Quaresma who headed in from point-blank range.
Caution had been the watchword for much of this last-16 tie in Lens, with both sides digging in throughout. Croatia strung together their pretty passing, with Marcelo Brozović and Luka Modrić to the fore, but there was little penetration or urgency. Even less so for Portugal, fully paid-up members of the waiting game.
Yet it was Fernando Santos's team who came closest in a cagey first half as Raphael Guerreiro delivered a tantalising free-kick that Pepe, five metres out and unmarked, nodded wastefully over. His reaction, head in hands, said it all. The attrition resumed. Who would blink first?
The second period started like the storm after the calm. On came Sanches, injecting impetus for Portugal, and Croatia responded in kind. Suddenly there were half-chances here, half-chances there. Three-quarters of one, perhaps, when Domagoj Vida headed wide with Mario Mandžukić better placed behind him.
Nerves crept in again, defensive care stamped out any green shoots of attacking abandon. By 116 minutes we were still waiting for the first attempt on target ... then Portugal broke.
Man of the match: Renato Sanches (Portugal)
The Bayern midfielder has been Santos's go-to guy in France, introduced ever earlier from the bench and never failing to cause an impact. He came on in the 50th minute, and the match immediately opened up. Busy and bustling, his driving runs forward caused all manner of problems and his defensive recovery was faultless. At 18, he is a prodigious talent.
The one that got away?
It is 12 years since Ronaldo, blond streaks in his hair and plaster wrapped around his earring, helped guide hosts Portugal to the UEFA EURO 2004 final ... only for Greece to ruin the fairy tale with one of their own. Germany squeezed Portugal out in the 2008 quarters and four years ago it was the pain of a shoot-out defeat by Spain in the semis. No one has played as many EURO matches as Ronaldo, nobody else has scored in four tournaments; now, at 31, is a winners' medal in the offing for the captain?
Spanish art, nouveau?
The past two tournaments have been won by a Spain side using their own brand of Barcelona-patented tiki-taka. Until today Croatia have played their own version, tiki-taka on hot coals, where salvation is found in the attacking third so they make their way there as quickly as possible. They abandoned that approach in Lens, the fear of defeat stymying endeavour. Ultimately, it cost them dear.
EURO2016.com team reporters
Elvir Islamović, Croatia (@UEFAcomElvirI)
Croatia came into this contest as favourites and did not take to the role well. Ante Čačić's men did not take risks from the beginning, instead waiting for Portugal to make a mistake. Portugal were playing the same way, discipline from start to finish. And just when everyone expected penalties, a rare slip in defence and the tournament is over. Too bad, as this team had so much potential. But if you want to win, you have to take a risk.
Joe Walker, Portugal (@UEFAcomJoeW)
Absolute jubilation in the Portugal end after they snatched victory at the death. Santos made a few bold calls in his selection, handing three starts to players making their debuts at the tournament – however it paid off. His substitutes, Sanches and Quaresma, changed the game and you have to say he set his side up to deal with the likes of Modrić and Ivan Rakitić immensely well. They will have eyes on going all the way now after that win, and chapeau to Santos: a tactical triumph for him after recent criticism.
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