The Czech Republic are not as good as Portugal, but for a period of time in the first half of their Euro 2012 quarterfinal, they didn't appear to have any idea that they weren't. Then, Portugal took over the latter part of the second half, and the Czech Republic decided they were, in fact, the inferior side and began to play an extremely conservative game. They almost held out for a 0-0 draw, but Cristiano Ronaldo came up with a heroic goal.
Ronaldo struggled in Portugal's first two matches, but followed up his two-goal performance against the Netherlands with a dominating match and a game-winning goal against the Czechs, firing Portugal into the semifinals of the competition with a 1-0 victory.
The first half ended with a bit of foreshadowing. The first 35 minutes were largely uneventful, but Ronaldo began to take over the match at the end of the half, creating three shots and hitting the post with the last of them. He carried that play into the second half, where he was easily the best player on the pitch.
Ronaldo smacked the post again with an extremely impressive 35-yard free kick that beat Petr Cech, but just missed the goal by a couple of inches. Portugal continued to assault the net throughout the half and got progressively more accurate with their attempts, forcing Cech into multiple quality saves. Eventually, their domination would pay off.
João Moutinho, who had one of the best matches of his career in a Portugal shirt, set up the 79th-minute winner with an excellent cross. He drifted out to the right flank from his central midfield position and put a great ball into the center of the box, which eluded Hugo Almeida. Ronaldo came darting in out of nowhere, cutting into the center of the box from the left flank to get onto the ball and then power an excellent header past Cech to give his team the lead that their play deserved.
Cech ventured forward for a 93rd-minute Czech Republic corner kick, but they were never able to turn their set play into a shooting attempt, and Portugal easily held on for the win. They await the winner of the quarterfinal between Spain and France, which takes place on Saturday.
You can find our previous coverage of the game in our Czech Republic Vs. Portugal, Euro 2012 Quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.