Portugal Tops Poles via -- What Else? -- PKs
Quick starts in Euro 2016 bracket play seem to be a curse.
Earlier in the week, England popped a penalty four minutes into the match and wound up losing.
This time, it was Poland whose account would be opened and closed after very few turns of the ball, hanging on for a 1-1 draw in regulation and extra time before exiting the tournament on penalties.
In so doing, Portugal had no choice but to move on to the semi-finals.
Consider that clip a metaphor for the Portuguese.
Groucho is clearly the star, holding the spotlight while surrounded by chaos. Hardly noticed to his left is Zeppo, the straight man, sorta representing everyone in A Selecção not named Cristiano Ronaldo.
It was a comedy act by right-back Cedric Soares that created a chance for Poland that Robert Lewandowski didn't miss:
100 seconds into it, the FC Bayern striker had scored the second-fastest goal in tourney history. More poignantly, though, it was and would be his only marker in Euro 2016, which is another reason why the Poles are out.
It was time for Portugal's megastar to step up, but after blowing a golden opportunity, Poland's Michał Pazdan decided if Ronaldo was gonna score, it'd be from the spot:
Incredibly, no penalty.
That sequence set the tone in more ways than one. Ronaldo got bounced around by Poland's defenders the rest of the match.
So, with their face of the nation neutralized, it came down to teenager Renato Sanches:
Dude's now the youngest goal-scorer (18) in tournament history.
What with Euro 2016's annals being whacked twice in this match, the second half was blasé to the point of being downright ugly.
The highlight turned out to be a paying customer:
In mere seconds, viewers discovered:
- Ronaldo learned something about dodging contact after that assault by Pazdan,
- Portuguese maverick fans are harder to catch than Seattle strays, and
- France is indeed a rugby hotbed, as evidenced by that security dude's tackle.
After a few more Ronaldo shots missing everything, it became inevitable that this one was going to penalty kicks.
Check the trend of low-left until Portugal's Nani goes oppo. Unfortunately for Jakub Blaszczykowski, that put Selecção 'keeper Rui Patrício on notice, and his streched-out save set the stage for Ricardo Quaresma to do what must be done.
Portugal has exactly one Euro 2016 win in regulation.
Not that they haven't had their chances. Odds are they'd best start converting them.