Portugal breeze past Turkey and into Euro 2024 knockout stage

AFP , Saturday 22 Jun 2024

Portugal swept into the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Saturday after comfortably seeing off Turkey 3-0 and guaranteeing first place in Group F.

Bernardo Silva
Portugal s Bernardo Silva, right, celebrates with Joao Cancelo after scoring the opening goal of his team, during a Group F match between Turkey and Portugal at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2024. AP

 

Bernardo Silva's fine finish in the 21st minute, a comical Samet Akaydin own goal shortly afterwards and Bruno Fernandes's second-half tap-in gave Portugal a straightforward win in front of swathes of passionate Turkish fans in Dortmund.

Portugal looked every inch a team aiming to win their second European Championship after triumphing in 2016, their star-studded line-up easily dealing with Vincenzo Montella's enthusiastic but limited Turkey team.

Cristiano Ronaldo will have at least two more tries to become the oldest goalscorer at a European Championship as Martinez said on Friday that the 39-year-old is in the right shape to play every four days.

It was Ronaldo who unselfishly set up Fernandes for a simple goal in the 56th minute after springing through Turkey's offside trap, and he then had time to pose for a selfie with a child fan who invaded the pitch midway through the second half.

Martinez's side, on a perfect six points, will face one of the four best third-place finishers in the next round and go into their final group game against Georgia without any pressure for a result.

The same cannot be said for Turkey who need a draw against the Czech Republic on Wednesday to ensure second place.

Turkey's passionate support again flocked to the Westfalenstadion in huge numbers, with long tailbacks on the roads leading to the ground several hours before the 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) kick-off.

Some fans sat on the top of cars leading chants among the thousands of supporters who crawled towards their destination.

Pitch invaders

Once inside what was effectively a home crowd let out a deafening chorus of whistles and jeers when Portugal jogged out for their pre-match warm-up.

However, once the match got underway there was a clear gap in class between the two sides and Portugal went deservedly ahead through Silva as the Manchester City midfielder confidently smashed in Nuno Mendes's deflected low cross.

Soon after, Akaydin gifted Portugal a two-goal lead with his sloppy backpass which turned into an own goal as Zeki Celik and goalkeeper Altay Bayindir tried in vain to prevent the ball crossing the line.

Those two goals and the dominance of the Portuguese players quietened down the partisan crowd and the result was sealed when Fernandes stroked home his former Manchester United teammate Ronaldo's present of a pass.

The Portugal fans then turned up the volume to celebrate their country reaching the last 16.

And cheers then rang around the ground from both sets of supporters as a pint-sized fan ran onto the pitch midway through the second half, just as the game was stopped to allow Nelson Semedo to replace Joao Cancelo for Portugal.

The youngster was cool enough to grab an amused Ronaldo for a photo and then dashed off on a mazy run his hero would have been proud of, dropping his shoulder on security staff before eventually being carted away from the pitch.

Ronaldo was less amused when five much larger fans then made copycat bids for selfies, only to be showered with boos and refused a photo before annoyed stewards reached them.

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