Denmark vs Portugal: Victory Gives Portugal Momentum It Needs to Advance
Portugal was minutes away from suffering heartbreak at the hands of Denmark.
Substitute Silvestre Varela refused to let that happen. The F.C. Porto forward was able to rip a turn-around shot passed Stephan Andersen in the 87th minute to give Portugal the 3-2 win they so desperately needed.
Now the Portuguese have momentum heading into their final match of group play against the Netherlands, and that's all they will need. The Dutch are coming off a crippling 2-1 loss to Germany, and now find themselves firmly situated at the bottom of Group B.
Unfortunately for Portugal, they didn't get much help from Cristiano Ronaldo, yet again. That's not as bleak of a statement as it may seem.
In the first game of group play against Germany, Ronaldo was largely uninvolved. His teammates hardly looked for him on the wing. Even when they did, they sent him futile passes that he had no chance to capitalize on.
But in the match against Denmark, Ronaldo was actually a part of the game. While he did fail to take advantage of a few golden opportunities—most notably a free kick from just outside the box that he sent sailing over the net—his presence was at least felt.
It's strange to say this about one of the best football players in the world, but baby steps are good too.
Ronaldo should be able to put it together against the sub-par defense of the Dutch. Relatively sub-par, of course, compared to the back lines of Germany and Denmark.
At least Paulo Bento knows that he can get great production out of the other players on his team.
Pepe was brilliant for the second consecutive match. He found the back of the net with a brilliant header off a corner kick, tucking the ball inside the near post while his momentum carried him in the opposite direction.
Ronaldo is supposed to be the heart and soul of this team, but it's the lesser players who have been getting the job done. Along with Pepe, Nani was brilliant today as well. He fired the low cross that put Helder Postiga in perfect position to send the ball into the upper-right corner of the net.
Joao Moutinho was on his game today as well. He executed the perfect corner kick that bent just enough into Pepe that it allowed him to slide the ball passed Stephan Andersen.
Now that the role players have stepped up and assumed control of the team, if Ronaldo can give Portugal anything at all, they will have no problem beating a demoralized Netherlands team in their final match of group play.
What will become of Portugal in this tournament?
If Portugal can beat the Netherlands and Germany wins against the Danes like it should, the Portuguese will be headed to the knockout stage of the 2012 European Championships.
With the way the Portuguese offense played against Denmark, don't be surprised if things go their way.
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