WARSAW: Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero as Portugal beat an ultra-defensive Czech Republic 1-0 at the National Stadium here on Thursday in their quarter-final to qualify for the Euro 2012 semi-finals.
Ronaldo headed home a cross from Joao Moutinho 11 minutes from the end to set up a possible semi-final against either world champions Spain or France.
It was just reward after another starring performance from the Real Madrid man against opponents who failed to register a single shot on target and were hindered by the absence of injured playmaker Tomas Rosicky.
“We had the quality to pass into the semi-finals,” said Ronaldo.
“We are happy but know the next match will be difficult but the team is very mature and we are ready.
“There are big smiles and good music all round us!”
Portuguese winger Nani, who also had an outstanding game, said that the victory while long in coming was deserved.
“We played really well, we were stylish on the pitch and it was a great team effort,” said the Manchester United star.
“Now its going to be more difficult in each game but we are very confident.
“I had a couple of chances which went close but that’s how it is in football, Ronaldo as well went close but he hit the target in the end.”
As is so often the case in knock-out matches in big tournaments, the first half was a cagey affair.
Portugal struggled to string two passes together while centre-backs Pepe and Bruno Alves resorted to lumping long aimless balls up the field.
Czech Republic had some joy down their right with one particularly dangerous cross from Theodor Gebre Selassie only just being cut out by Pepe. Moutinho hit a weak shot from 20 yards that Petr Cech gathered easily. But then the Ronaldo show really took off.
The Real Madrid star sprung into life in the 25th minute as he darted across field, played a one-two with Nani, shrugged off Michal Kadlec and fired straight at Cech.