Ronaldo ready for the fight

PA Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo insists Portugal are mature enough to handle the pressure

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Cristiano Ronaldo insists Portugal are mature enough to handle the pressure

Cristiano Ronaldo claims Portugal are growing in confidence after his second-half header sent his side into the semi-finals of Euro 2012 with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.

The Real Madrid forward twice hit the woodwork and saw his team have a goal ruled out for offside before he arrived on cue in the six-yard box to nod in Joao Moutinho's cross on 79 minutes at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

Ronaldo said on BBC1: "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."

The Czechs - with captain Tomas Rosicky, the Arsenal midfielder, only on the bench because of an Achilles injury - had started brightly, but lacked a decisive move in the final third. Portugal, who came through the Group of Death behind Germany, will now face either France or world champions Spain in Donetsk on June 27.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento felt his side grew into the game and deserved their place in the semi-finals.

He told a press conference: "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.

"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."

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."

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