Another record for Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal romp into round of 16

Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes
Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes (PC: Cristiano Ronaldo/X)

RevSportz Comment

Cristiano Ronaldo has already played more games at the Euros than anyone else (21) and is way out in front in the goal-scoring charts (14). On Saturday night, he added another record to his collection, with an eighth Euro assist — moving him alongside Karol Poborsky — as Portugal showed off their title credentials with a 3-0 trouncing of Turkey.

Turkey will wonder what might have been had they taken an early lead. Kaan Ayhan’s delightful long pass had sent Zeki Celik free down the right and his low cross into the six-yard box was exactly the sort that defenders and goalkeepers hate. Kerem Akturkoglu sprinted in from the left, but Joao Cancelo did just enough to ensure that the finish was scuffed and wide of the mark.

On 21 minutes, Turkey were made to pay for that lapse. Rafael Leao slid in Nuno Mendes in the inside-left channel and his cross deflected off Orkun Kokcu’s heel into the path of Bernardo Silva. The emphatic, driven finish was something all too familiar to Manchester City fans.

Against a team with so many attacking options, the last thing you need is joke defending. But after 28 minutes, the game was as good as over when Cancelo nicked the ball in midfield and moved forward. Even as Ronaldo berated him for an errant pass and Cancelo threw up his arms in frustration, Samet Akaydin played a back pass at 2x speed. Unfortunately for him, goalkeeper Altay Bayindir had decided to hare out of his line. The most frantic backpedalling wasn’t enough to stop the ball crossing the line.

Turkey were restricted mostly to long-range efforts that the impressive Diego Costa kept out, and 10 minutes into the second half, Ronaldo had his record-breaking moment. Turkey’s dismal attempt to spring the off-side trap saw both Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes sprint clear, and Portugal’s captain unselfishly squared the ball for Fernandes to apply the final touch.

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Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku
Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku (PC: X)

Belgium back on track

After the shock loss to Slovakia, Belgium revived their campaign with an ultimately comfortable 2-0 win against Romania. Jeremy Doku and Romelu Lukaku combined to set up Youri Tielemens for a second-minute goal that settled the nerves, and though a sprightly Romanian side created plenty of chances, with Koen Casteels producing some fine saves, it was Belgium that always had more of a cutting edge.

Lukaku had a third goal chalked off in this tournament, off-side by a hair’s breadth, but there was no doubt about Kevin de Bruyne’s clincher in the 79th minute. The Belgian captain showed tremendous strength to hold off the covering defender and slot the ball home after a Romanian player had flick-headed a goal-kick in his direction.

With Slovakia and Ukraine also on three points each, the final round of matches on Wednesday will be nail-biters. Belgium play Ukraine in Stuttgart.

Mamardashvili frustrates Czechia

In Saturday’s first game, Czechia created a dozen clear-cut chances and bossed possession, but still had to settle for a draw against a desperately disappointing Georgia side who were only a sporadic threat on the counter. Georges Mikautadze gave Georgia the lead from the penalty spot in first-half injury time, after a handball was spotted by VAR, but Czechia got the equaliser their play deserved through Patrick Schick in the 59th minute.

Georgia always looked dangerous on the break, but with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia —one of the stars of Napoli’s shock Serie A win in 2022-23 — mostly off-colour, they managed just a single shot on target. At the other end, Giorgi Mamardashvili came up with some stunning stops that did his burgeoning reputation no harm, as a frustrated Czechia side were left needing to beat Turkey in Hamburg next Wednesday to progress.

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