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Euro 2016: Portugal reach second straight Euro semis after penalty shoot-out win over Poland

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Euro 2016: Portugal reach second straight Euro semis after penalty shoot-out win over Poland

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Portugal progressed to the semi-finals of the European championship for a second consecutive time and for a fifth time overall after beating Poland 5-3 on penalties.

Robert Lewandowski scored his first goal of the tournament and the quickest of this edition after just two minutes.

Renato Sanches drew Portugal level after 33 minutes following a fine shot from the edge of the area.

No more goals were scored in regulation or extra time.

Jacub Blaszczykowski was the only one to miss for Poland from the spot while Ricardo Quaresma fired the winning penalty to send his nation through.

Off to a quick start

The game got off to a flyer.

Lewandowski top scored in qualifying with 13 goals but needed four matches in the finals to open up his account in France.

After just two minutes Kamil Grosicki darted into the box and pulled the ball back to the Bayern Munich man, who was waiting eagerly on the penalty spot.

He made no mistake from that range and side footed home past Rui Patricio with powerful precision.

It was the fastest goal scored in this edition of the tournament and second quickest in Euro history – Russia’s Dmitri Kirichenko holds that record after scoring in his side’s 2-1 win over in Greece 2004 after just 67 seconds.

Lewandowski’s new club mate Renato Sanches, who moves to Bayern from Benfica for some 35 million euros this summer, levelled for Portugal after 33 minutes and on his first start for his country.

After a slick one two with Nani, who was in the area, the 18-year-old sensation thundered home his shot past Lukasz Fabianski from the edge of the box albeit with the help of a slight deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak’s arm.

Portugal struggled to continue the momentum after the break as Poland played with purpose and tempo but in general the second half failed to match up to the thrilling first 45 minutes on the Mediterranean coast.

Out-of-sorts Cristiano Ronaldo should have fired Portugal into the semi-finals on 85 minutes when a brilliant lofted ball over the defence by Joao Moutinho dropped over Ronaldo’s shoulder.

The Real Madrid star, who had just Fabianski to beat, got his timing all wrong and barely made contact as his effort embarrassingly summed up his tournament to that point.

The match presented the opportunity for Ronaldo to equal or even surpass Michel Platini’s record of nine career Euro goals, but the Portugal skipper failed to fire on the night, again.

Neither side could find the winner in regulation time as German referee Felix Brych blew his whistle to signal extra time.

Both teams looked spent in extra time, with decent chances few and far between.

And although Poland appeared the more hungry pushing forward they couldn’t capitalize and a penalty shootout was needed decide the winner of the tie.

Ronaldo and Lewandowski both nailed their openers for their sides.

Sanches kept his cool to fire into the top left corner putting the pressure on Poland, but Arkadiusz Milik was up to the task to coolly hit his spot kick.

João Moutinho blasted low to the left, while Kamil Glik confidently levelled for three pens each.

Former Manchester United man Nani put Portugal back in front and when Jakub Błaszczykowski had his effort saved by Patrício it left Quaresma to fire home the winning penalty.

Portugal head into the semi-finals without winning a single match over 90 minutes of play.

Player of the day

Teenage star Renato Sanches is deservedly the man of the match in Marseille

What’s up next

The first Euro 2016 semi-final match will be known on Friday night when Wales and Belgium lock horns in Lille.

Wales have already made history by reaching the quarter-finals of their maiden European Championship, but will now face arguably their toughest test so far in second ranked Belgium.

Although Chris Coleman’s men are underdogs they will take some confidence from the fact they were unbeaten in their two qualifying games against the Red Devils, winning one and drawing the other.

With three goals and one assist to his name Gareth Bale is leading the race to the golden boot and will no doubt look to add to that tally in Lille.

Marc Wilmots Belgium side however appear to have found their stride and qualified for the quarter-finals with an emphatic and morale-boosting 4-0 win over Hungary.

On form Eden Hazard was the inspiration for that victory and will hope to produce a repeat performance in the last eight.

Thomas Vermaelen is the only player suspended for the tie.

If form is to go by Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey should have a busy night.

Belgium lead the way for attempts on goal at the tournament having fired in 84 shots in their four matches so far.

Day in photos

EURO 2016 day 19: Quarter-final Poland v Portugal

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