Czech Republic vs. Portugal: Player Ratings for Both Teams
With the eyes of the world upon him once again, Cristiano Ronaldo delivered for Portugal in the clutch like he has a few times before for his country.
Portugal had impressed all game long and were taking the game to the Czech Republic in the second half, but the Portuguese needed that one bit of inspiration to actually put the ball in the back of the net, and they got it from their best player.
The Czechs probably got what they deserved in the end for being content with playing an extremely defensive game all match, and in the end, the better team advanced.
Let's look at all the players who performed in this clash and break down both sides bit-by-bit.
Petr Cech: 8.5
Much of the task of keeping out the rampant Portuguese was left to Cech, who did extremely well all match and pretty much silenced those who were questioning his health or form.
Time and time again, Cech was there to stop very promising attacks by coming off his line or making wonderful reflex saves. He did what a world-class keeper does—keep his team in the game when the other players don't look up to the task.
Theodor Gebre Selassie: 5
Faced with the rather unenviable task of marking Cristiano Ronaldo, Gebre Selassie did the best he could under the circumstances, but ultimately could not keep up with the winger.
When he was not assigned Ronaldo on his flank, he did well in possession; and his passing was tidy, but he could have done much better on Ronaldo's goal.
Michal Kadlec: 6.5
Kadlec did well on the whole and was ever present in defence when he needed to be for a side that was simply defending for its life in much of the second half.
His lack of pace showed occasionally, but his good positioning made up for it most of the time; and he was one of the better players at the back for the Czech Republic.
Tomas Sivok: 6
Sivok did well to get stuck in on numerous occasions, and it was often that would turn up when Portugal tried to advance the ball.
He had trouble, though, dealing with some of the more intricate attacks that the Portuguese put together. Nani, for example, played tricks with him, as he did with other Czechs throughout the match.
David Limbersky: 7
Faced with the brunt of the Portuguese attack for long stretches, Limbersky did very well under the circumstances and even managed to be positive going forward.
He didn't do too much when he got a sniff of the ball, but that was exactly what his side needed, as his presence on the ball often cooled things down for the Czechs.
Jaroslav Plasil: 4.5
Like a lot of his teammates, Plasil had a very productive first half, but went completely anonymous in the second when his metronomic midfield role was taken away when the Czech Republic began to focus exclusively on defence.
He was good when pushing his team forward and keeping possession, but he did so less and less as the game wore on, eventually fading from view completely.
Vaclav Pilar: 7.5
Easily the Czech Republic's best outfield player on the day, Pilar produced almost all of the offense that was good for his team going forward.
Often, he would be stranded after running into Portugal's half with the ball, as his teammates were reluctant to support him; but he was always trying to make something happen. One mazy run, in particular, looked like it could have produced a moment of sheer brilliance.
None of Pilar's teammates can say that they had that same sort of influence on the match.
Tomas Hubschmann: 3.5
Much like Plasil, Hubschmann went completely dormant in the second half after being quite lively in the first half.
He had virtually nothing to offer when Portugal began attacking relentlessly after the break and completely disappeared when the Czechs lost all interest in going forward.
Petr Jiracek: 6.5
Among the thoroughly lackluster group of attackers for the Czech Republic, Jiracek was one of the better players, driving as hard as he could when he and the rest of his team lacked the legs to make a second-half push.
Finding as much space as he could in a crowded environment, his work rate was admirable; and there just were not enough players willing to capitalize on the few chances that Jiracek was able to create.
Vladimir Darida: 5.5
It was obvious that the Czech Republic sorely missed their captain and talisman Tomas Rosicky, but Darida did all he could to help fill the void.
Unfortunately, he's just not as good a player.
He worked hard and tried to keep play flowing in midfield, but he could not make much of anything nor control the play like Rosicky can.
Jan Rezek: 5
Rezek came on for about the last half-an-hour, but like those around him, did not have the pace or the audacity to drive forward and challenge the Portuguese defence in any significant way.
Again, if it was Tomas Rosicky making a cameo appearance, the latter stages of the game might have gone differently for the Czech Republic. But Rezek was not capable of having the sort of influence on the match that would turn the tables in favor of a side with their backs against the wall.
Milan Baros: 5
Baros worked as hard as he could up front with weary legs and little-to-no service, but could not come up with anything to turn the game on its head, no matter how much he tried.
Unfortunately for him, that was all he could attempt, as his teammates provided him with absolutely no help up front and no space in which to work.
Perhaps if the Czech Republic had not been virtually overrun in the second half, Baros could have created something special.
Rui Patricio: 5.5
Rui Patricio could have sat down and taken a nap for large swaths of the match, and no one would have noticed or cared.
The Czech Republic only had two shots in the entire game, and neither were on target; so Patricio truly had nothing to do but act as an occasional sweeper for his side.
Bruno Alves: 6.5
The center-back was mostly needed to support the attack and did very well to get forward and support his teammates whenever he could.
Alves was needed in defence more than his teammates because of the presence of Vaclav Pilar, and Alves performed admirably in that department, too. A very solid performance overall.
Always a lightning rod, Pepe caused some controversy, as he always does with some risky challenges in the penalty area that left a couple of Czechs on the ground.
Defensively, he was probably Portugal's best player on the day, making crucial interceptions and a couple of last-ditch tackles on the sporadic occasions when he actually had to do the job of a center-back.
Fabio Coentrao: 8
Acting mostly as a second left winger, Coentrao was extremely active in the Portuguese attack and helped to create some of Portugal's best moves throughout the game.
Rarely having to do that pesky little task called defending that left-backs often are burdened with, Coentrao cut inside on many occasions and raced down the left wing to cover for Cristiano Ronaldo when he did the same to keep many an attack alive.
Joao Pereira: 6
The right-back was the foil to many of his fellow Portuguese defenders in that he stayed back and defended for much of the game, but that was exactly what was needed of him.
He was solid on the occasions when he pushed forward to support Nani, among others, but Pereira played an essential role in keeping the Czechs in their own half.
Miguel Veloso: 6.5
He ventured forward frequently from his position in defensive midfield, and his technical proficiency on the ball allowed him to be one of Portugal's better attackers.
With that attacking mentality, though, comes a certain defensive fragility; and he was not particularly effective with that side of his game.
He didn't really need to be, though, and he added much more to his team than he subtracted.
Raul Meireles: 6.5
Instrumental in Portugal's domination of possession in the second half, Meireles showed once again that he is a very important part of gluing the midfield together.
He was occasionally caught in possession and sometimes too eager to make a leading pass, but his creative instinct and impressive passing ability kept the Czechs on their heels for long stretches.
If Portugal wants to advance to the finals, it is obvious that Meireles will have to come up big again.
Joao Moutinho: 7
Like Meireles, Moutinho grew in influence as the match went on, especially during the periods of the second half when the Portuguese were completely dominant.
When he wasn't dictating the flow of play with his effective and efficient passing, he was directly threatening Petr Cech in goal. Moutinho caused some of Cech's most urgent problems.
To add the cherry on top, he provided the inch-perfect cross for Cristiano Ronaldo's game-winning goal in the 79th minute.
Helder Postiga: 4
There's isn't much to say about Postiga's performance, as the striker was removed due to injury in the 39th minute without contributing much when he was on the pitch.
He had never really gotten involved in the play before he left, and his replacement Hugo Almeida proved to be much more effective.
Hugo Almeida: 6
Based on his display off the bench in this match, I would argue that Almeida should start over Postiga, even if the latter is fit heading into the semifinal.
Almeida offered much more in the air with his large frame and knowledge of how to use it and used intelligent movement to open pockets of space for his teammates to work in.
However, he did miss a couple of good chances in the second half and could have opened the scoring earlier with one or two more deft flicks of the head. If he improves his finishing ability, Almeida will be perfectly positioned to take advantage of the great players around him.
As he so often does, Nani drifted in and out of the match, even when Portugal were taking the game to the Czech Republic in the early stages of the second half.
When the ball was channeled to him on the right wing, though, he did show his quality and class on the ball, weaving inside and through defenders and troubling Petr Cech with a venomous shot that forced the goalkeeper into a great save.
To get past stronger teams, though, Portugal will need Nani at something closer to his best.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 9
Portugal's much-maligned best player once again delivered a true captain's performance and is unquestionably the man of the match.
Most of what the Portuguese do in attack flows through Ronaldo, and with his incredible variety of world-class skills and tricks, it's not hard to see why.
If anyone was going to break the deadlock, it was going to be him. He constantly peppered Petr Cech's goal with threatening shots, including multiple strikes off the post and one scintillating free-kick.
Often, when a player breaks a goal-scoring duck, they start to flow as his confidence grows. And that's just what we're seeing from Cristiano Ronaldo. If he can keep this up, Portugal will have a realistic shot at going all the way.