Portugal beat Czechia with dramatic added time winner

June 18 – It took a goal in added time in Leipzig for Portugal take all three points with a 2-1 win against Czechia in a game they dominated from start to finish.

But it almost went wildly wrong for the Portuguese after they found themselves a goal behind with five minutes to go before equalising through a Czech own goal and then capitalising on a defensive error to squeeze over the line.

Portugal had breezed through the qualifiers, winning every single match. Often playing intoxicating football, they scored 36 goals and conceded just two, with Cristiano Ronaldo lending a typically big helping hand in scoring ten goals in the campaign.

The started this Group F match in similar style with Ronaldo to the fore and control of the ball that saw them have a remarkable 75% of possession, most of camped on the edge of the Czech box.

Ronaldo was ever present but it wasn’t to be his night for goals

This Portuguese team is much more than Cristiano, captain and talisman that he is. Portugal are packed with quality from Diogo Dalot and Pepe, through Vitinha, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and the live wire Rafael Leao up front, and it showed, at least until it came to getting the ball in the back of the net.

Roberto Martinez, in his first major tournament as Portuguese manager has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal but for periods in the second hal there were echoes of his last gig with Belgium where the team promised a lot but couldn’t quite deliver.

Ronaldo is still all about delivering and he had his first half chance on 8 minutes with a header in the box.

Czechia’s David Doudera celebrates their lead

On 20 minutes Bruno Fernandes unleashed a shot from the left hand side of the box that was tipped over by Jindrich Stanich in the Czechia goal. Minutes later Rafael Leao slid into the 6-yard box but couldn’t quite get a touch.

In the 32nd minute Ronaldo was fed through in front of goal but Stanich again got a hand to the ball.

Vitinha pushed and probed, driving at Czechia’s solid five-man back line, well martialled by Czeck skipper Thomas Soucek.

Leao received a yellow card for going down too easily in the box. He could have been awarded a penalty.

Ronaldo ended the first half the way he started with a shot going wide.

With the score 0-0 at half time, the second period continued with dominant Portugese possession and within two minutes Dalot had scooped a shot over from the edge of the box.

Francisco Conceicao, on as a sub, netted added time winner

With the rain pouring down Ronaldo had a header deflected and then a free kick in front of goal gathered easily by Stanic. It wasn’t going to be a lucky night for him in front of goal.

In the 62nd minute the Czechs, in pretty much their first foray into the Portuguese half, scored. The ball worked down the left flank only for the cross into the box to come out to Lucas Provod who curled a sweet left footed shot round a despairing Diogo Costa in Portugal’s goal.

It was a pinch-me moment, was that really the Czechs in the opposition half and scoring?

The lead lasted just seven minutes.

With Portugal back in possession the ball was crossed to Nuno Mendes at the back post whose header across the box was pushed out by keeper Stanic only to hit his own defender Robin Hranac and rebound back into his net.

Cruel luck but perhaps, but the Czechs had been riding their defensive luck up to that point.

Normal service was resumed with Portugal camped on the edge of the Czech box with a sense of urgency verging on panic starting to creep in. Martinez worked his subs bench.

On 78 minutes Vitinha hammered a long shot that was pushed away for another corner for Portugal to waste.

Having attacked once and scored on 80 minutes the Czechs had another go, this time Michal Sadiek shot wide.

In the 85th minute Diogo Jota, on as a sub, looked to have scored the winner. Another ball across the box was met by Ronaldo who headed back across the goal and on to the post. Jota headed the rebound home only for VAR to rule that Ronaldo’s shoulder was offside.

The luck was back with the Czech defense, but not for long.

Two minutes into added time Pedro Neto drove in from the left and hit a low cross that the Czech’s didn’t deal with but Francisco Conceicao, also on as a sub, did, hammering it in from 3m.

Portugal’s 2024 campaign was up and running with some style and a little bit of mayhem. They face the high flying, high octane, and hugely supported Turks next in what could prove to be a Euro classic on Saturday.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721239043labto1721239043ofdlr1721239043owedi1721239043sni@n1721239043osloh1721239043cin.l1721239043uap1721239043