Portugal in as Swiss tumble out
Portugal became the first team to secure their quarter-final
berth on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over the Czech Republic, which
owed much to their star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco. Turkey
beat Switzerland 2-1 and will face a showdown for second place in
Group A on Sunday 15 June against the Czechs, while co-hosts
Switzerland are already out of the tournament.
Czech Republic 1-3 Portugal
Goals: Libor Sionko 17 (Czech Republic), Deco 8, Cristiano Ronaldo 63, Ricardo Quaresma 90 (Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco, with a goal and an assist each, were the stars of a full-blooded yet technically outstanding match against a Czech team that showed considerable improvement on their opening game. The match could have gone either way for the first hour, but the Portuguese duo made the difference by unselfishly setting up their team-mates in front of goal. Ricardo Quaresma's injury-time strike was harsh on the excellent Petr Cech in the Czech goal, and gave the scoreline a slightly flattering look.
Switzerland 1-2 Turkey
Goals: Hakan Yakin 32 (Switzerland), Semih Senturk 58, Arda Turan 90 (Turkey)
Switzerland got off to the better start, but it was the Turks who were celebrating at the final whistle. A thunderstorm left the pitch absolutely drenched, but this did not seem to bother the co-hosts, who opened the scoring after half an hour when Hakan Yakin turned a cross from Eren Derdiyok into an empty net. Turkey hit back on the hour mark when captain Nihat Kahveci's cross was nodded home by Semih Senturk. Switzerland threw everything forward in an attempt to pile the pressure on keeper Volkan Demirel and keep their campaign alive, only to have their hopes dashed in the final seconds of injury time when Ardan Turan's deflected shot gave Turkey all three points and hope of progressing. For the dejected co-hosts, their tournament is already over just five days in.
Pick of the day
Switzerland-Turkey: In Basel, the Switzerland-Turkey game changed face after 10 minutes when a huge storm hit the stadium. The pitch, so waterlogged that the ball hardly rolled properly, seemed to suit the Swiss style of play more. Then, as the storm died down, Turkey scored their two goals - leaving the co-hosts in floods of tears.
Quote of the day
"The squad are feeling good, they've got a glint in their eyes. They're all helping one another out and that's a good sign. We found it tough going in the first half and after the break, we needed to be more aggressive, impose our style of play and speed things up, and that's what the players did." Portugal coach Felipe Scolari
The numbers game
4 - The number of goals that Portugal's Deco has scored in 55 matches. The man voted best player at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2006 is better known for providing assists, as he proved tonight when he set up Cristiano Ronaldo's strike.
After strolling to a 2-0 win over Poland in their opening game, Germany will face a much stiffer test on Thursday against a Croatia side buoyed from their 1-0 victory over Austria. The winner of this match, if there is one, will be virtually certain of a spot in the quarter-finals.
"We will have to step things up since we will be coming up against better teams than Poland in this tournament, starting with Croatia who are a team that beat England twice," said captain Michael Ballack. "There's still a long way to go," maintained coach Joachim Low, who is expected to stick with the same line-up.
His opposite number Slaven Bilic was quick to remind people that although Croatia have only beaten Germany once in seven generally hard-fought encounters, that particular 3-0 win, in the quarter-finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™ and with a certain Slaven Bilic playing at the back, "is a match which has gone down in the annals of history."
In the second match of the day, Austria and Poland will be desperate for a win, with a draw of little use to either team. Poland will be without striker Maciej Zurawski, who was injured against Germany - Marek Saganowski seems likely to take his place - while Austria have tried various formations in training in an attempt to keep their EURO dream alive.
Have your say
Will Cristiano Ronaldo, who was voted man of the match, end up as the tournament's top scorer and best player?