- Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani score two in four minutes as Portugal triumph
- Portugal will face either France or Germany in Sunday’s final at Saint-Denis
- Ronaldo equals Michel Platini’s record of nine EURO finals goals
- Portugal, runners-up at UEFA EURO 2004, through to only second major final
- Ronaldo becomes first man to appear in three EURO semi-finals
Cristiano Ronaldo scored one and set up the other as Portugal struck twice in four minutes early in the second half to book their place in the UEFA EURO 2016 final.
For the first 50 minutes Wales were perhaps the better team in Lyon, with Gareth Bale running the Portuguese back line ragged during one five-minute spell midway through the first half. Ronaldo had seen enough, thumping in a header – his record-equalling ninth finals goal – then cracking in a low drive that Nani diverted in.
The Wales fairy tale was over – as many had predicted it would be beforehand – but for a while Chris Coleman’s men threatened to once more tear up the script. With James Collins keeping Ronaldo subdued at one end, Bale set about taking the game to Portugal at the other. The No11 flashed one shot wide, created an opening for Andy King and then got Rui Patrício involved with a strike of his own.
Bale’s effort was the first and only shot on target in the first half. Portugal managed theirs five minutes after the restart, Ronaldo losing James Chester to head in Raphaël Guerreiro’s cross following a short corner. The second quickly followed through Nani and the game was up.
“Don’t take me Home” came the familiar refrain from the Wales fans. Too late; Ronaldo had already confirmed their departure.
Man of the match: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
It is 12 years since Ronaldo, blond streaks in his hair and plaster wrapped around his earring, left the pitch in tears after Greece spoiled the hosts’ party at the UEFA EURO 2004 final. Germany squeezed Portugal out in the 2008 quarters and four years ago it was the agony of a shoot-out defeat by Spain in the semis. No one has played as many EURO matches or scored as many goals as Ronaldo; now, at 31, is a winners’ medal in the offing?
Bale v Ronaldo
Much of the pre-match talk surrounded the clash of the Real Madrid titans. They loomed large at each end like volcanoes, bubbling under, always threatening to explode. Bale initially showed more activity, bursting into life for five minutes midway through the first half; but ultimately it was Ronaldo who erupted early in the second period, devastating the Wales challenge in the space of four minutes.
Do not go gently into that good night
Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s famous elegy on resisting the end resonated as the Dragons, trailing 2-0 and mortally wounded, refused to go down without a fight. Men of Harlech and Land of my Fathers rang around the stadium, with Portugal’s frenetic support respectfully ceding the airwaves while they did. Yet, as Coleman said before this semi, this is not the end for Wales. It could be just the start.