Portugal 'ready for the fight' after reaching Euro 2012 semi-finals says Cristiano Ronaldo

 

Cristiano Ronaldo warned Portugal will be "ready for the fight" when they line up for next week's European Championship semi-final after his header beat the Czech Republic in Warsaw.

The Real Madrid forward had twice hit the woodwork and seen his team have a goal chalked off for offside before he arrived on cue in the six-yard box to nod in Joao Moutinho's cross on 79 minutes at the National Stadium.

The Czechs - with captain Tomas Rosicky, the Arsenal midfielder, only on the bench because of an Achilles injury - had started brightly, but lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

By contrast Portugal, who came through the 'Group of Death' behind Germany, looked a fluid outfit and but for some wayward finishing and the width of a post could have won by a more comfortable margin.

Either France or world champions Spain will await in Donetsk on June 27, and former Manchester United frontman Ronaldo maintained: "We know it is going to be difficult, but we are ready, we are confident.

"We are very mature, so we are ready for the fight."

Portugal coach Paulo Bento felt his side grew into the game and deserved their place in the last four.

"We did not start the match well in attack for the first 25 minutes, then we showed a great response in the second half, a great capacity to respond to the Czechs and that is why we really deserved this victory," Bento said.

"We had prepared ourselves in the best possible way for their strategy.

"We knew they would try to defend very deeply and would press against us on the counter-attack, because they have very quick players who are good technically.

"As the game went on we controlled the match, we played better and had more chances to create our own game."

Despite Ronaldo grabbing the headlines, Bento was reluctant to single out any individual performances.

"All the players have tasks on the pitch, and Ronaldo played to our tactical system," the Portugal coach said.

"He has the capacity to play in the penalty area, but also a little deeper."

Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek felt his squad could be proud of their achievements in reaching the last eight - especially after being thumped 4-1 by Russia in their opening group game.

"We have managed to show our character and strength," he said.

"We never gave up in difficult situations, and that is why I can be very proud of my team."

The Czechs may have sat back for long spells, but Bilek felt their gameplan was sound.

"If you open up, they will punish you," he said.

"We knew they were going to attack and they created lots of dangerous situations.

"We managed in the first half, but were losing strength in the second half and it became easier for them.

"Ronaldo is a very good player, and he settled the match."

 

PA

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