Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo finally delivers as dissenting Netherlands descend into anarchy - International - Football - The Independent

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo finally delivers as dissenting Netherlands descend into anarchy

Portugal 2 The Netherlands 1: Cristiano Ronaldo finally got on the scoresheet at Euro 2012 as his two goals gave Portugal a 2-1 win over the Netherlands to eliminate the Dutch

The Metalist Stadium

The Netherlands crashed out of Euro 2012 in Kharkiv last night after being played off the pitch by Portugal, led by a Cristiano Ronaldo who finally found his scoring touch at this tournament. The beaten World Cup finalists two years ago depart from Ukraine in the most ignominious fashion, the first side to lose all three of their games.

They offered little save for an impressive early goal, and the match ended in depressingly predictable fashion, with their players arguing among themselves and tackling progressively more petulantly. Portugal took complete control of the midfield and on another night their marauding counter-attacks could have yielded several more goals.

"It's the same side as two years ago apart from a couple of positions," claimed under-fire coach Bert van Marwijk. "We tried to make the team faster and younger and better. I knew it wasn't going to be easy repeating what we did two years ago. The players who usually make a difference for us didn't reach that level."

Negotiating the "Group of Death", which contained four of the best 10 football sides in the world if Fifa's rankings are to be believed, was never going to be easy, and was made harder for the Netherlands when they lost the opening game to Denmark, before wilting in the Kharkiv heat against a well-organised Germany.

In a last throw of the dice last night in a match that the Dutch had to win by two clear goals, Van Marwijk finally heeded the cries to play a more attacking side, and picked both Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart, in place of Ibrahim Afellay and the more defensive Mark van Bommel.

While they were in the more enviable position of already having three points, Portugal still had a job to do, however, and the early minutes suggested that it was not going to be easy. The Dutch had most of the early possession, and when they went ahead in the 11th minute it became a possibility that their sombre looks may have indicated a severe sense of purpose rather than a petulant resignation. Arjen Robben, after a run down the right that threatened to run out of steam, this time decided to pass rather than take on the extra defender, laying the ball off to Van der Vaart, who took a touch, glanced up, and dispatched a curling shot past Rui Patricio from a few yards outside the penalty area.

In the minutes after the Dutch goal, Portugal spurned no less than four excellent chances as the game opened up, with Ronaldo ending a mazy run with a low shot that clipped the outside of the post and Helder Postiga failing to convert a one-on-one with the keeper that arose after appalling defending from Gregory van der Wiel at right-back. Adding Portuguese profligacy to the news that Germany had taken the lead against Denmark gave a sense that this was perhaps going to be the Netherlands' night after all.

It was not. Portugal equalised when Joao Pereira's ball split the Dutch defence and allowed Ronaldo to score his first goal of the tournament, and from then on, the game was perhaps the most one-sided encounter of Euro 2012 so far, with the Portuguese slicing through the flimsy Dutch midfield with ease.

The chances kept coming, and to add to it, the Dutch began to disintegrate in the way that only the Dutch can. Van Marwijk was pacing around the technical area doing a passable impression of Basil Fawlty, and when he shouted something at Robben as the Dutch were defending a corner, his player shouted back at his manager in disgust. Wesley Sneijder, meanwhile, seemed intent on picking a fight with half of his team-mates.

Click here for Portugal v Netherlands player ratings

In the second half, there was more of the same from Portugal. Yet another of Ronaldo's runs down the left ended with a smart cross for Nani, who somehow managed to shoot straight at Maarten Stekelenburg instead of scoring. It did not matter much, as just a few minutes later the roles were reversed. This time, a speedy counter-attack saw Ronaldo on the receiving end of a perfectly measured cross from Nani, and the Portugual captain made no such mistake.

There were only eight minutes remaining as the Netherlands' first real chance of the second half came, when Van der Vaart unleashed another of his curling shots, this time hitting the post. By that stage, it hardly mattered. As injury time approached, Ronaldo finished off another run with a shot that also clipped the post, when a hat-trick would perhaps have been fair reward for the best individual performance of the tournament so far.

Portugal will feel confident of progressing through a quarter-final encounter with the Czech Republic but coach Paulo Bento preferred not to concentrate on Ronaldo's performance. "The individual effort of players is not important," he said, "Today we can talk about brilliance, it was the best game we have played here."

Meanwhile Van Marwijk has to consider his position. Although he has a contract until 2016, he refused to answer questions about his future last night.

Match facts

Scorers: Portugal: Ronaldo 28, 74. Netherlands: Van der Vaart 11

Subs: Portugal Oliveira 5 (Postiga, 64), Custodio (Meireles, 72), Rolando (Nani, 87). Netherlands Afellay 6 (Willems, 67).

Booked: Portugal Pereira. Netherlands Willems, Van Persie.

Man of the match Ronaldo. Match rating 7/10.

Possession: Portugal 42%. Netherlands 58%.

Attempts on target: Portugal 8. Netherlands 3.

Referee N Rizzoli (It). Attendance 38,633.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week