Football Features

Winners & Losers as Cristiano Ronaldo bags a historic brace as Portugal leave it late to beat Hungary at Euro 2020

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:24, 15 June 2021

In a match full of late drama, Portugal smashed Hungary 0-3 at Euro 2020 to take early control of Group F.

The match was open and end-to-end with the Magyars easily matching their more illustrious hosts and even taking the lead only to see it ruled out for offside. Portugal them ramped up the pressure and blew them away late. Who were the winners & losers?

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Winner: Raphael Guerreiro

The headlines will obviously belong to his team-mate, but the real hero of the hour for Portugal was Raphael Guerreiro, the left-back who so often goes unheralded for both Borussia Dortmund and Portugal, but so often produces crucial moments for them.

And tonight it was Guerreiro who produced again. A gorgeous pass from Bruno Fernandes took out four Hungarians and send Rafa Silva running down the right. The Benfica winger popped a cross into the box and it deflected back into the path of Guerreiro whose stabbed effort deflected into the back of the net. A lucky goal? Sure. But a crucial goal that gave Portugal a lead. And once the floodgates were open…

Loser: Willi Orban

For 84 minutes Willi Orban was the best player on the pitch. The centre-back was immense, getting himself in the way of absolutely everything Portugal threw at Hungary. But Raphael Guerreiro’s shot deflected cruelly off him and into the back of the net.

From here, it all collapsed. Minutes later he panicked when chasing Rafa Silva and barged the winger over to concede a penalty that made it 2-0. Then minutes after that he froze when he should have stepped up and blocked Rafa Silva, and the winger used that hesitation to feed Cristiano Ronaldo and make it 3-0 and a thrashing. Orban destroyed Hungary. For shame.

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

17 years ago, a teenaged Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Portugal at Euro 2004 against Greece. Now in 2021, a 35 year-old Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for Portugal at Euro 2020 against Hungary.

If that was all he did, that would be an absolutely incredible feat of longevity. But of course that’s not all he did, is it? Over 100 international goals between those three, and the Euro 2016 title to boot. He’s broken records everywhere he’s been and he’s still doing it today.

The first ever player to feature in and score in five European Championships. The top scorer in European Champions history. The most international goals scored by a European man and closing in on the most international goals scored by any male player. It’s a ridiculous list of achievements. And that he did it against Hungary, the nation of Ferenc Puskas – perhaps the only striker with a claim stronger than Cristiano’s to being the greatest goalscorer of all-time – felt rather poetic.

Sure he missed a sitter, sure Guerreiro had the decisive goal and Rafa Silva the decisive impact, but who scored the most goals? Exactly. The records keep tumbling for Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s history-maker.

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Winner: Rafa Silva

When Fernando Santos’ first change against Hungary was to bring on Rafa Silva for Bernardo Silva, many were confused. Where as Joao Felix? André Silva? Ruben Neves? But no, Rafa Silva got the nod precisely because he is a direct winger who will not overcomplicate things. He will get wide and get it in, direct play just like Portugal needed.

And, well, that’s what he did.

The first Portugal goal? A Rafa Silva cross. The second Portugal goal? A penalty won after Rafa Silva’s direct run into the box. The third Portugal goal? A lovely team moved with a delicious pass from Rafa Silva for an assist.

That’s one hell of an effective cameo.

Winner: Marco Rossi

When you’re managing underdogs like Hungary, so much of your prosperity is wrapped around any star talent you may have. For Marco Rossi, that was Dominik Szoboszlai. The 20-year-old RB Leipzig midfielder is a wonderful footballer and would have been Hungary’s talisman at the tournament, but he was ruled out with injury just weeks before the Euros began.

Did Marco Rossi whinge? No, he simply sent his team out to play cohesive and organised football. To be brave in defence and the same in attack. To believe that they had a chance, and to try and take them down. That’s what he did, and honestly Hungary were so good. It’s a crying shame that they lost, because they put in such a heroic effort. If Szoboszlai was fit, you can imagine they would have won the game. But as it turns out they lost, but not for Marco Rossi’s efforts.

Loser: Diogo Jota

As much as it was indeed a lot of fun to chuckle at Cristiano Ronaldo’s theatrics and exasperated gestures when things went awry in the early part of the game, his first outburst when he raged at Diogo Jota for not passing him the ball was entirely justified. Cristiano was in space and had the Liverpool man fed him then he would have surely had a clean look at goal.

That was just the first of many poor decisions from Diogo Jota. The big decision in the Portugal attack was always who would partner Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva and with Jota getting the nod over Joao Felix and André Silva the onus was on him to play well and he really, really did not. Great movement, sure, but decision-making was poor and he seemed to have brought Liverpool’s finishing with him.

Not good.