Football Features

Turkey 0-3 Portugal: Ronaldo and company join Iberian neighbours and hosts in Euro 2024 knockout phase

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:55, 22 June 2024

Portugal booked their place in the Euro 2024 knockout stages after emerging as 3-0 winners over Turkey this afternoon.

Roberto Martínez’s men subsequently joined Spain and host Germany as the first confirmed Round of 16 participants.

The former European champions experienced a somewhat hostile atmosphere in Dortmund as the Westfalenstadion’s famed South Stand, nicknamed the Yellow Wall, was a sea of red and white.

Every touch by a Portuguese international was met with incessant whistling and jeering, while Vincenzo Montella’s team seemed like the actual hosts rather than merely designated for this fixture. It was Ay-Yıldızlılar who had the first opportunity through Kerem Aktürkoğlu, but the Galatasaray man from close range squandered his chance.

That missed opportunity was duly punished as Bernardo Silva ended a nine-goal scoring drought to net his first goal at a major international tournament. It all came down Portugal’s left flank, where Rafael Leão and Nuno Mendes linked up well, with the latter’s cross skidding through the legs of Samet Akaydın, taking a nick off Orkun Kökçü and sitting up nicely for Silva, who broke the deadlock.

Minutes later, Portugal doubled its lead in the most fortunate and bizarre circumstances.

João Cancelo burst through midfield and tried to play the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo. It didn’t come off, and his nation’s captain slammed his arms in frustration, but Akaydın blindly played the ball back to goalkeeper Altay Bayındır as the Portuguese pair regrouped and, despite last-ditch attempts to clear their lines, the ball crossed the line.

A communication breakdown meant Akaydın had scored the second own goal from outside the box in European Championship history after Pedri in Croatia against Spain in 2021. It also proved to be a rare occurrence, as Portugal went two goals ahead in the first half of a Euro match for the third time, last doing so against Denmark in 2012.

History was then against Turkey, as only one team has come from two or more goals down at halftime to win a game at the Euros: Germany (4-2 vs. Yugoslavia in 1976, trailing 0-2 at halftime). Any chance of repeating those incredible scenes was extinguished before the hour mark when Ronaldo ran onto a through ball and, rather than going for goal himself, squared it for Fernandes, who had the simplest task in the world to tap it home into an empty net.

That was, incidentally, Ronaldo’s seventh European Championship assist, the most of any player on record (since 1968). As for the Manchester United skipper, he’s now scored ten goals in his last 14 appearances for Portugal.

With qualification secured as Group F winners, Martínez will likely rotate in Portugal’s final game. Chances are Rafael Leão would have sat out against Georgia, but the Milan forward did his manager a favour after picking up a 39th-minute yellow card for simulation. It’s the second time he’s been cautioned for that particular act. In fact, Leão is the first player to receive multiple yellow cards at a single Euro tournament for “diving” on record (since 1980).

Turkey still have qualification in their hands. A draw with the Czech Republic will be enough for them to finish as Group F runners-up. Expect highly promising teenager Arda Güler, who wasn’t born when Ronaldo scored his first European Championship goal against Greece in 2004, to start. After coming on in the 70th minute of this match, Güler made 100% of his line-breaking passes in the final third (5/5); no player produced more in the final third in the entire game.

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