KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo finally found the form he was lacking at the European Championship, scoring twice Sunday to give Portugal a 2-1 win over the Netherlands and a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Real Madrid forward failed to sparkle in Portugal’s two previous matches but he was devastating against the Dutch. He produced an equalizer with his first goal of the tournament in the 28th minute and scored the winner in the 74th.
“Once again we showed how united we are as a team,” Portugal midfielder Miguel Veloso said. “It wasn’t easy to start with a defeat. The secret was our defending, our humility.”
Needing a win to have a chance at staying in the tournament, the disappointing Dutch fielded an impressive attacking lineup featuring Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie up front, but it wasn’t enough to keep them at Euro 2012.
The Dutch lost in the World Cup final to Spain two years ago and, with stars such as Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, had anticipated a strong run at Euro 2012.
Instead, it will be Portugal in the quarterfinals facing the Czech Republic on Thursday in Warsaw.
And it was Ronaldo who stole the show.
Portugal cranked up the pressure after falling behind, with Ronaldo probing the Dutch back line and equalizing after Joao Pereira’s pass. It was the kind of chance he took so often at Real Madrid last season, when he scored 60 goals for his club. In Portugal’s first two matches, he wasted those.
The Dutch, however, sharpened their attack. After losing their first two games to Denmark and Germany when they started with a lone striker, Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk added Huntelaar alongside Van Persie, the leading scorers in the Bundesliga and Premier League, respectively.
Huntelaar was a spectator for most of the game, while Sneijder was stuck on the left wing in an unexpected tactical decision Van Marwijk.
Germany 2, Denmark 1: Germany advanced to a quarterfinal against Greece after beating Denmark in Lviv, Ukraine, in their last Group B match. The Danes were eliminated.
Lukas Podolski opened the scoring for Germany in the 19th minute, and Lars Bender slotted home the winner in the 80th after Michael Krohn-Dehli had equalized for Denmark in the first half.
Germany finished top of the group and now faces Greece on Friday in Gdansk.