Cristiano Ronaldo crosses the ball against Mozambique during their game at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs: Portugal Defeats Bosnia 6-2

Croatia, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Portugal have won their playoff series to advance to Euro 2012. Portugal did so in impressive fashion, defeating Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-2.

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Pots Set For Euro 2012 Draw

The pots have been set for the Euro 2012 draw, and there are some incredibly strong and weak group possibilities. The draw takes place this December in Kiev.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Full Time: Portugal Qualify In Style

Portugal have thrashed Bosnia 6-2 to secure their spot at Euro 2012 in Poland\Ukraine. It was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggests, however, with Bosnia putting up a ferocious resistance and taking advantage of their few opportunities to peg Portugal back and prevent them from building a commanding lead.

After a Ronaldo free-kick and a Nani thunderbolt had given Portugal a comfortable lead, Dzeko struck back with an ice-cool penalty after Coentrao did a silly handball. Then, as Ronaldo made it 3 after rounding Asmir Begovic, Bosnia went down to 10 men after Lalic was dismissed for his behaviour towards the referee.

It had all looked over, but then Spahic surprisingly struck following a Bosnian set-piece to give the away side an unlikely lifeline. Soon after, however, Postiga hit a savage finish to put Portugal 4-2 up, at which point the Bosnians collapsed, Veloso and Postiga adding to the scoreline before full-time.

Overall, not a simple outclassing by Portugal, but a superb display against an opponent who were committed, determined, and refused to give up. Their midfield were excellent, but Ronaldo was the star of the show, in imperious form as he led the Portuguese attack. Portugal looked like the team we always knew they could be today – they’ve scarcely got a mention for anyone’s Euro 2012 predictions, but if they can play like they did today, it’ll be hard for anyone to stop them.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Postiga Makes It Six For Portugal

It was wrapped up, then they put the icing on the cake, and now they've sealed the deal. Whether we'll get a cherry on top to go with that is difficult to say, but Postiga has made it 6-2 to Portugal, after Ronaldo stood it up for an easy finish. It's been a virtuoso performance from the Real Madrid winger, at his gliding, elegant, imperious best.

In other news: Nani has been taken off, so Manchester United fans can be pleased that he's escaped injury. Postiga goes off and gets a standing ovation, like Meireles before him. Bosnia have fallen apart at the end here, but they put up a ferocious resistance all across the park for a good 65 minutes - but Portugal were magnificent, simply too strong for them.

 

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Postiga Surely Puts Portugal Through

That's surely that, now. Helder Postiga puts the latest nail in Bosnia's coffin, which should turn out to be the final one. After being played in, he leathers the ball past Begovic from 15 yards out for Portugal's fourth - every one a beauty.

Bosnia have fought hard and fought well here, but Portugal have been a class above. Their midfield trio of Veloso, Meireles, and Moutinho in particular have been superb, with Ronaldo and Postiga a constant threat. They should really have won this a long time ago, but a combination of ferocious Bosnian pressing and their own defensive lapses have conspired to make it a much more difficult game than it ought to have been. Still, it looks as though they can pack their bags this time. Surely...

 

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Spahic Gives Bosnia An Unlikely Lifeline

Good lord, this is ridiculous. The 'ole's had started and Bosnia looked defeated, but after a free-kick out on the right side - given away by Coentrao, who has made two mistakes all game, both of which have led to goals - is swung in and half-cleared, Portugal have a collective brain-melt and leave about five Bosnia players completely unmarked in the centre. Spahic gets on the end of the return, and the Captain calmly sweeps the ball into the corner to put Bosnia back into a match they could've lost ten times over again.

It's remarkable from the Bosnians, who have been utterly coldblooded in front of goal, making the most of very little possession in Portugal's half, but if they blow this then Portugal will feel very silly indeed. Over 20 minutes left for Bosnia to complete an unlikely comeback - but remember, they'll have to do it with ten men.

 

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Ronaldo Restores Portugal's Lead

Cristiano Ronaldo has put Portugal 3-1 up with another great goal, Moutinho playing him a pass as he surged in from the left flank, rounded Begovic, and put the ball into the empty net. He made it look easy - a remarkably calm finish from the winger, who has been superb tonight - a far cry from the player we saw during the Carlos Queiroz regime.

And you can call that game over now, because to make matters worse, Lulic has been sent off for his trash-talking towards the referee. Bosnia might've had a faint hope with eleven players, but with ten, they've no change. Portugal, and Ronaldo, are going to Euro 2012, and they have the Madeira fruitcake to thank for getting them there. 

 

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Bosnia Strike Back With Dzeko Penalty

Bosnia have gotten themselves right back in the game courtesy of a moment of madness from Fabio Coentrao. With the ball flying into the box, in the process of getting bundled over challenging for a header, he thrust his arm into the air. The only reason that could possibly explain it is if he was trying to call for a foul, but while the ball was in the air! Goodness me. Anyway, the ball hits his arm, the referee rightly points to the spot, and Dzeko coolly sends the keeper the wrong way to get Bosnia right back into it.

In truth, it had never looked over - Dzeko went as close as he possibly could by hitting a header off the underside of the bar and onto the goalline, and Portugal's defence has been shaky to say the least - but it perhaps should be. Portugal got a taste of some old-fashioned 'boy who cried wolf' medicine when, after going down very easily the whole game, Helder Postiga was scythed down in the area and was given a yellow card for diving for his troubles. And that, kids, is why you play nicely...

 

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Nani Makes It Two For Portugal

Portugal have given Bosnia a big ask now, as Nani has put them 2-0 up with another cracker of a goal. The winger found space 20 yards from goal, and fired in a superb dipping shot which made short work of Asmir Begovic. We won't say game over just yet, but this is going to be very difficult for Bosnia to come back from.

Both sides have been pressing furiously, but Bosnia haven't been doing so quite as effectively, and to top it all off they've been giving away a lot of fouls (not aided by Portugal taking the opportunity to go down rather easily.) Before the goal, Ronaldo almost scored another, sending in another powerful free-kick, but this time, too close for Begovic, who tipped it over. Bosnia need two goals to qualify, but they've shown no signs that they've got it in them so far.

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Ronaldo Gets Portugal Off To A Great Start

Cristiano Ronaldo has gotten Portugal off to a great start by thumping in a 25-yard free-kick to put them 1-0 up. There may be some controversy as Bosnia keeper Asmir Begovic was on the receiving end of a laser pen as he was organising his wall, but he was never saving this. It was too well-struck by the Real Madrid winger, just over the wall and landing well out of Begovic's reach.

It's deserved for Portugal too, who have started the better side. Moments before, Fabio Coentrao put in a low, dangerous cross from the left-hand side, from which Meireles warmed the palms of Begovic. Bosnia haven't turned up yet - they need to sort themselves out quickly while they still can. And for Portugal, they need to be careful - their opponents, of course, still only need one goal...

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Montenegro Vs. Czech Republic, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Full Time, Czechs Through To Finals

The Czech Republic are through to the finals of Euro 2012, though not without some good fortune. Due to the 2-0 lead they picked up at home, they were expected to progress rather easily into the finals. They defeated Montenegro 1-0 away from home to advance 3-0 on aggregate, but the score is flattering to the Czechs. They struggled in defense throughout the second leg, giving up a number of chances. Montenegro could have scored five or six times over, but their finishing was absolutely woeful.

Mirko Vucinic and Stefan Jovetic were in the thick of most of the chances as would be expected, but they just couldn't hit the target. Vucinic had two very clear headers in the second half on which he should have scored, hitting the crossbar in the 48th minute and missing an absolute sitter in the 55th minute. Not long after the first miss, Michael Kadlec went studs up into Vucinic's Achilles on a tackle, a clear red card offense. The referee, inexplicably, didn't see a foul.

Montenegro continued to create chances throughout the second half until they were eventually made to pay for their misses and they men they committed forward. Petr Jiracek scored the dagger for the Czechs in the 82nd minute, finishing from 12 yards off of a low cross by Zdenek Pospech. The Czech Republic are deservedly through to the finals, but they will likely be serious underdogs in their group.

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Croatia Vs. Turkey, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Croatia Advance After Scoreless Draw

Absolutely nobody expected Turkey to be able to recover from a 3-0 home loss in the first leg of their Euro 2012 playoff tie against Croatia, and what do you know - they totally didn't. The visitors did look far better than they did on Friday, however, threatening repeatedly and coming close to finding the goals that would have made the match interesting, but Croatia, who were more or less already though, looked pretty disinterested in attacking or scoring and as the minutes slipped away without a Turkey goal things only got worse.

Ultimately, the hosts' defence held and as the game wound down it became apparent that both teams were just out there for appearance's sake. Croatia had most of the ball, Turkey most of the shots (a very credible eighteen, with ten on target), and then the game finished 0-0, but only after a flare had landed on Stipe Pletikosa, making for some strange scenes at the very end of the match. Anyway, Croatia are through to the summer's tournament 3-0 on aggregate, and they'll be a third seed in Poland/Ukraine.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Lineups

The lineups are in for Portugal Vs. Bosnia, the only tie which might still provide some intrigue:

PORTUGAL: Rui Patricio - Bruno Alves, Pepe, Coentrao, Joao Pereira, Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles, Nani, Ronaldo, Helder Postiga. Bench: Eduardo, Rolando, Rúben Amorim, Rúben Micael, Carlos Martins, Quaresma, Hugo Almeida.

BOSNIA: Begovic; Papac, Spahic, Jahic, Rahimi, Pjanic, Misimovic, Lulic, Medunjanin, Zahirovic, Dzeko. Bench:  Avdukic, Besic, Pandza, Ibricic, Muslimovic, Ibisevic, Maletic.

So, an unchanged Portugal lineup from Paulo Bento, who were, in typical Portuguese fashion, rather underwhelming last time out. With their midfield backing up Dzeko, though, Bosnia certainly have goals in them, and both teams have plenty of options on the bench - this one really could go either way.

We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Croatia Vs. Turkey, Euro 2012 Qualifying, Playoffs: I Guess They're Still Playing This For Funsies

Croatia and Turkey are still playing the second leg of their Euro 2012 Qualifying playoff tie. I guess that's a rule or something. That you have to play both legs.

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Montenegro Vs. Czech Republic, Euro 2012 Qualifying, Playoffs: Home Side Needs A Miracle

Montenegro are in a deep hole against the Czech Republic, trailing 2-0 heading into the second leg of their tie.

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Portugal Vs. Bosnia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Preview

Both Portugal and Bosnia-Herzegovina probably spent good chunks of the weekend fretting about the misses that could have earned either side the win in the first leg of their playoff tie last Friday, but thanks to both sides' profligacy in front of goal this playoff series is still very much in the balance. Considering what happened in the other Euro 2012 matches we were graced with on Friday, the rest of us are probably glad that none of Cristiano Ronaldo, Helder Postiga and Vedad Ibesevic could find the net in Sarajevo.

Who has the advantage going into Lisbon? It's hard to say. Portugal now have the benefit of playing at home, but then again they have no opportunity to get an away goal - if Bosnia score early, things are going to be very dicey indeed. Neither team looked to have a huge edge on the other on Friday, but the pitch was in pretty poor condition and that undoubtedly hindered Portugal's more technical game. Both sides have plenty of room to improve as well: Ronaldo wasn't his usual self and Edin Dzeko was very subdued for most of the evening, making it very difficult for Bosnia to turn midfield possession into incisive attack for all but the last thirty minutes of the match.

Portugal's best chances came from the channels, particularly the left, and since there hasn't been much time to adjust personnel one would expect the hosts to be hitting Bosnia hard in those gaps once more. Ultimately, it's more important for Portugal to prevent their guest from scoring than it is to score themselves, and that will probably be mostly down to the performance of the midfield, who weren't really very good at recovering and recirculating the ball when it was lost in Bosnia's half on Friday.

Portugal are a team packed full of excellent players, but they haven't really shown their stuff in a very long time and Bosnia have a real chance of snatching a win. So, with everything in the balance, get ready for an intense match. Catch the game at 9:00 PM GMT (4:00 PM EST) at the Estadio da Luz

Portugal vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina kicks off at 4:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3 in the USA. We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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Ireland Vs. Estonia, Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs: Preview

Congratulations to Ireland for qualifying for Euro 2012. Granted, they did so by being better than Estonia, which is only a little more impressive than having a better economy than Greece or a better football team than the Indianapolis Colts*. Also Ireland, the Faroe Islands beat Estonia when Estonia fielded eleven men, which is two more than the nine the hosts ended up with last Friday.

*Trying this American football referencing thing. Did I do it right?

That's not to say that Ireland played badly (they were very good) or don't deserve their spot in the summer's finals, but the fact of the matter is that Estonia were and are an awful team and that quickly spoiled any sense of competition in this tie. A 4-0 win away from home dispelled the rest of the mystery pretty quickly, leaving one (and only one) interesting storyline: Robbie Keane refused to return to Los Angeles to prepare for the Galaxy's MLS Cup final against the Houston Dynamo so he could focus on this game. When I think 'good captaining' I think 'pointless gestures', so well done Robbie.

Ireland's team has already been announced, with Roberto Trappatoni making three changes from the side that went all demolishy last Friday: Shay Given; John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Stephen Ward; Damien Duff, Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Stephen Hunt; Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane.

Ireland vs. Estonia kicks off at 2:45 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3 in the USA. We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs, Second Legs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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