Kharkiv, Ukraine – Cristiano Ronaldo turned in the kind of performance many felt he needed to on Sunday as the Real Madrid star scored two goals in a 2-1 Portugal win over the Netherlands, allowing the Portuguese to advance from Group B.
The Dutch had lost their first two games but still had a mathematical chance of reaching the quarterfinals.
And things started well when Rafael van der Vaart fired the Oranje ahead after 11 minutes.
But Portugal took over from there with Ronaldo equalizing for his side in the 28th minute and securing his team's place in the next round by firing home a shot in the 74th.
Portugal will now face the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals on Thursday, while the Dutch leave the competition without a point after being considered one of the favorites to lift the trophy.
The Dutch put out an attacking lineup and it paid off after 11 minutes when Rafael van der Vaart curled a wonderful shot inside the far post from 20 yards after the ball was laid off by Arjen Robben.
However, things fell apart for the Dutch, who were vulnerable in defense throughout the match.
Ronaldo struck the post with a shot from inside the penalty area with goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg beaten, while Helder Postiga pounced on a turnover in the Dutch defensive third but fired wide of the net.
Portugal continued to pressure and finally cracked the scoreboard in the 28th minute when Ronaldo made a cutting run through the middle of the Dutch defense and latched on to a through ball from Joao Pereira before slotting home a cool finish.
The pace slowed a bit after halftime but Portugal continued to have the better of the chances.
Postiga had the ball in the net for Portugal but was called offside, while Fabio Coentrao forced a diving save from Stekelenburg.
Nani should have put Portugal ahead when Ronaldo set him up for a shot from five yards, only for Stekelenburg to get across the net and keep the shot out.
Ronaldo finally put his team in front in the 74th on the counter attack with Nani supplying a perfect first-time pass to spring his teammate into the area, where he easily beat the 'keeper to make it 2-1.
The Netherlands came alive in the final 10 minutes with Van der Vaart striking the post and Robin van Persie shooting wide from 16 yards with only goalkeeper Rui Patricio to beat.
Those misses pretty much summed up the tournament for the Dutch, who nearly saw Ronaldo complete his hat trick in the 90th minute, only for the ball to come back off the post.