Ronaldo brimming with confidence
Cristiano Ronaldo is bullish about Portugal's Euro 2012 semi-final chances after they saw off Czech Republic 1-0 in the quarter-finals on Thursday night in Warsaw.
Ronaldo was the star of the show in the meeting with the Czechs as he hit the woodwork twice before scoring the decisive goal via a powerful diving header with 11 minutes remaining.Portugal will next face either France or Spain - who meet on Saturday - in the last four, and Ronaldo has warned their opponents that Paulo Bento's side are "confident".
Speaking after the win over Czech Republic, he said: "We created many chances and hit the post, but it is brilliant for us to have passed into the semi-finals. We know it is going to be difficult, but we are ready, we are confident. We are very mature, so we are ready for the fight."
Portugal coach Paulo Bento felt his side grew into the game and deserved their place in the semi-finals.
"We did not start the match well in attack for the first 25 minutes, then we showed a great response in the second half, a great capacity to respond to the Czechs and that is why we really deserved this victory,'' Bento told a press conference. "We had prepared ourselves in the best possible way for their strategy.
"We knew they would try to defend very deeply and would press against us on the counter-attack, because they have very quick players who are good technically.
"As the game went on we controlled the match, we played better and had more chances to create our own game.''
Despite Ronaldo grabbing the headlines, Bento was reluctant to single out any individual performances."All the players have tasks on the pitch, and Ronaldo played to our tactical system,'' the Portugal coach said. "He has the capacity to play in the penalty area, but also a little deeper.''
Bento maintains his side will be ready for whomever they face in Donetsk next Wednesday night.
"In the semi-finals of a tournament like this, there are always great teams with different characteristics who are well organised with players of great quality,'' he said. "We do not prefer [to play] anybody. It has been a lot of work by us to reach the semi-finals and we will try to recover to reach the pitch in the best condition.
"We will show the response which is necessary. Our aim will be to win against France or Spain. There cannot be any other goal for us.''
Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek felt his squad could be proud of their achievements in reaching the last eight, especially after being thumped 4-1 by Russia in their opening group game.
"We were disappointed as we were really looking forward to fighting in the semis and then the final, but we have played well at the tournament," he said. "They were more dangerous and had more chances, but we fought very hard."The Czechs may have sat back for long spells, but Bilek felt their gameplan was sound. He said: "If you open up the game, they will punish you. We knew they were going to attack and they created lots of dangerous situations.
"We managed in the first half, but were losing strength in the second half and it became easier for them. Ronaldo is a very good player, and he settled the match."Bilek, who was again without injured captain Tomas Rosicky, believes there are plenty of reasons to be positive for the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign. "I still trust my team, their strength and know they are good," he said. "During these two years we have created a team with great qualities and relationships."
Bilek added: "I am happy we made it to the quarter-finals especially after the first match. We have managed to show our character and strength. We never gave up in difficult situations, and that is why I can be very proud of my team."