Portugal 2-0 Wales: Cristiano Ronaldo stars as Portugal reach Euro 2016 final
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 07/07/16 8:02am
Cristiano Ronaldo scored one and set up another as Portugal ended Wales' remarkable run at Euro 2016 with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night to reach the final.
A cagey game in Lyon burst into life after the break when Portugal struck twice in three second-half minutes to book their place in Sunday's showpiece, where they will face either Germany or France.
Ronaldo opened the scoring with a towering header (50), before his sliced shot from 25 yards was deflected home by Nani (53) to double Portugal's advantage.
Wales, who by reaching the last four achieved their best finish at a major tournament, were largely restricted to long-range strikes from Gareth Bale, and failed to score in a match for the first time at the competition.
Portugal can now prepare for their first European Championship final since their 1-0 defeat by Greece in 2004, while Chris Coleman's side will return to Wales to a heroes' welcome after a superb campaign.
James Collins and Andy King replaced suspended duo Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey for Wales, while Bruno Alves came in for the injured Pepe as one of three changes for their opponents.
After a spine-tingling rendition of 'Land of My Fathers', it was Portugal who started on the front foot and Collins, making his first start for four months, was fortunate to avoid conceding an early penalty after grappling with Ronaldo in the box.
Coleman: We've done Wales proud
Chris Coleman reflects on Wales' achievements following their Euro 2016 exit...
A well-worked set-piece presented Wales with their first opportunity, but the lively Bale fired over.
The Welsh superstar then forced Rui Patricio into his only save of the first half, skipping past the challenge of Danilo Pereira before firing straight at the Portugal goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
Having successfully shackled Ronaldo for the opening 44 minutes, the final chance of the half fell to the Portugal forward, but he headed wide at the back post under pressure from James Chester.
But he made no mistake five minutes after the break, out-jumping Chester to powerfully head past Wayne Hennessey from seven yards out.
It was Ronaldo's third goal of the competition and his ninth in European Championship history, drawing him level with Michel Platini for most all-time.
Wales barely had time to respond before Portugal doubled their lead through Nani, with Ronaldo again involved. The Real Madrid star dragged his shot, but his former Manchester United team-mate was on hand to divert into the net from close range.
Coleman responded with a flurry of Welsh changes, bringing on Simon Church, Jonathan Williams and Sam Vokes, but his side struggled to trouble their opponents' defence.
Joao Mario squandered the chance to put Wales out of sight when his follow-up to an effort from Nani whistled past the near post, while a smart stop from Hennessey kept out Jose Fonte's header.
Wales' amazing journey ends
Wales are finally going home after their Euro 2016 semi defeat but it's been a story for the ages
Bale twice tested Patricio with stinging efforts from distance as Wales searched in vain for a route back into the match, and their adventurousness almost allowed Portugal to grab a third.
Hennessey saved from Danilo and Ronaldo fired wide from a tight angle as Portugal saw out the closing stages for their first victory in normal time at Euro 2016.
Portugal: Patricio, Cedric, Alves, Fonte, Guerreiro, Mario, Danilo, Sanches (Gomes, 74), A Silva (Moutinho, 79), Nani (Quaresma, 86), Ronaldo
Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Chester, A Williams, Collins (J Williams, 66), Taylor, Allen, Ledley (Vokes, 58), Bale, King, Robson-Kanu (Church, 63)
Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo