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EURO 2012 LIVE: Czech Rep. 0 Portugal 1

In the first quarterfinal at Euro 2012, Portugal beat the Czech Republic 1-0 on Thursday. Here is a running account of the action. All times are local to Poland.

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2234: FULL-TIME: Czech Rep. 0, Portugal 1.

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2233: Cech comes up to attack a corner, but the delivery is poor, going nowhere near the big goalkeeper. Last chance for Czechs?

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2229: Portugal has had 19 shots, with five on target, while the Czechs have had a miserable total of ZERO shots on target out of two overall.

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2228: Ronaldo is mobbed by teammates as he runs over toward Moutinho to celebrate. While the players were ecstatic, coach Bento just looked relieved. Four minutes plus added time for the Czech Republic, who have offered nothing going forward this half, to find a equalizer.

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2225: Finally, after so many attempts, Ronaldo scores with a brilliant header. With the play down the right hand side, the Portugal captain lurks behind Gebre Selassie who seems unaware who's behind him. As Moutinho delivers with a neat cross, Ronaldo darts ahead of the defender and bounces a sublime header past Cech.

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2221: GOAL! Czech Republic 0, Portugal 1 (Ronaldo).

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2219: Paolo Bento is looking more and more agitated on the sideline as his Portugal side lets another chance slip away. Nani gets a shot in at goal this time, but a covering defender gets across and gets a foot to it. The ball deflects over for a corner, which is cleared by the Czechs.

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2216: Ronaldo now exchanges roles with Meireles, pulling the ball back into the midfielder's path inside the penalty area, but he fires his shot high over the bar. While the Portuguese are attacking well, they have been wasteful and there are now only 17 minutes left for them to turn their domination into a goal.

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2210: The stadium breaks out into 30 seconds of vociferous chanting of 'Polska' from the numerous local fans that are in the stadium. Many flags out tonight, including one from Bulgaria and another Colombia!

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2208: Moutinho goes so close for Portugal. His fierce shot from 20 yards brings a spectacular fingertip save from Cech.

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2205: While Ronaldo remains the main figure in proceedings at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Raul Meireles deserves a mention. He has orchestrated the majority of notable attacks from the center of midfield for Portugal and it has been a classy performance from the 29-year-old.

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2203: Portugal finds the back of the net but the goal is ruled out for offside. Nani curls the ball into Almeida, who stoops and glances a header past Cech and into the back of the net. As he turns to celebrate though, he is met by the sight of the linesman with his flag up and it was the right call.

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2158: Meireles picks out Ronaldo again with a clever ball over the top of the Czech defense. Ronaldo gets inside and ahead of Gebre Selassie, chests the ball down but slices his half volley wide. It is relentless attacking football from Portugal though in the first ten minutes of the second half.

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2153: Ronaldo hits the post again! He stands over a free kick with his typically extravagant run up in place and unleashes a dipping drive at goal, but it bounces up against the post with Cech beaten. The Portugal captain wails in frustration and you can understand why because he has done everything but score.

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2150: And straight away, they should be ahead. Meireles gets away down the left and sets up Almeida with a free header from a precise cross, but he flicks his header high over the bar. That is a huge waste of a simple chance from Almeida.

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2147: The players are back out on the pitch and it is Portugal who get the game back underway.

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2136: Portugal goes in at half time on the front foot, despite a strong start from the Czech Republic. Ronaldo has been at the center of everything for the 2004 runner up, forcing a great save from Cech when he looked destined to find the back of the net and he hit the post moments before the half time whistle. Jiracek has looked the most lively for the Czechs and forced a couple of early corners for his side, but Portugal stepped things up after the first 20 minutes.

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2132: HALF-TIME: Czech Republic 0, Portugal 0.

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2130: So close! Ronaldo chests the ball down, turns to lose his marker with ease — but his shot hits the post.

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2125: A blow for the Portuguese as Helder Postiga is forced off with a hamstring injury. Win or lose tonight, Portugal unlikely to see Postiga back in action again at this tournament.

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2122: Ronaldo goes close again and this would have been some goal. Pepe loops a ball back into the penalty area as the Czech Republic tries to clear from a corner. Ronaldo meets it with an acrobatic bicycle kick that bounces wide. Had he tried that with his weaker left foot, he would have been able to get his effort on target but taking that shot on with his right meant the angle was always against him.

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2120: simonhaydon: Howard Webb clamped down with a couple of yellows for Portugal in 2 mins. Seems to have done the trick as play has flowed since. (via Twitter).

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2112: Two yellows in quick succession for Portugal, Nani and Miguel Veloso going into the referee's book.

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2111: Portugal goes close to opening the scoring and it's that man Ronaldo. He cuts in from the left, exchanges passes with Moutinho, and bursts into the penalty area. He shrugs off the feeble attempt at a challenge from Kadlec and launches a shot across goal, but Cech gets down quickly and makes a great save but the referee had already blown for a Ronaldo foul.

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2104: Ronaldo could have scored an own goal there. He is back to help defend a corner and jumps in front of his goalkeeper to flick the ball clear, but it hangs awkwardly in the air for a moment before going wide of the far post and out for another corner to the Czechs.

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2059: Portugal are being watched by two of its greatest-ever strikers at the National Stadium tonight. Eusebio and Luis Figo are sitting side by side. Good to see Eusebio looking fit after a health scare a couple of months ago.

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2058: Moutinho gets a shot at Petr Cech from outside the area after working the ball into some space from a short corner. His shot is tame though and Cech gathers it with ease.

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2056: simonhaydon: I reckon Ronaldo would go nuts if you playfully ruffled his hair and spoilt his look.

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2055: Fiery reaction from Ronaldo as Portugal fails to hit on the counter with the ball running away from the captain and going out of play. Ronaldo had found plenty of space on the left and he turns to his teammates, snarling away, waving his fists in fury and drawing deafening jeers from the crowd.

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2051: It's been a battling start from the Czechs, who are enjoying all the early possession. Jiracek has had a couple of nice touches already and has looked to break forward to assist Baros at every opportunity. In the first clash between Gebre Selassie and Ronaldo, the Czech right back pokes the ball out to safety. More to come from those two tonight though, you feel.

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2045: The match gets underway, the Czechs playing in red, the Portuguese in their white away kit.

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2042: The roof of the National Stadium is closed this evening. The weather has been unpredictable to say the least in the past 24 hours. Last night saw the most incredible thunderstorm rattle away into the early hours of the morning, accompanied by torrential rain.

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2040: Tonight's match will go to penalties if the scores are level after 90 minutes and extra time of 30 minutes. Also worth noting that Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech saved a spot-kick from Ronaldo in the 2008 Champions League final penalty shoot-out in Moscow. Cech still ended up on the losing side that evening but both men will remember the penalty in question, you can be sure of that.

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2026: The referee for the game this evening is Howard Webb, from England. Webb was the referee for the ill-tempered 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands in South Africa.

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2023: Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky has failed to make the starting lineup due to an achilles tendon injury. The Arsenal playmaker has to settle for a place on the bench with Vladimir Darida taking his attacking midfield role, just behind Milan Baros. It was Daniel Kolar who replaced Rosicky in the 1-0 victory over Poland, but Kolar clearly did not do enough to cement his position in the eyes of coach Michal Bilek. Goalkeeper Petr Cech continues with the armband.

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2020: Portugal continues with its 4-3-3 formation. That means Cristiano Ronaldo is part of a three-man attack, alongside center-forward Helder Postiga and former Manchester United teammate Nani on the right. Incidentally, Ronaldo is one of five Portugese players who is a yellow card away from a one match suspension. Fabio Coentrao, Joao Pereira, Helder Postiga and Raul Meireles are the other four. Meireles also missed the Champions League final for his club Chelsea due to the same rule, so will want to be extra careful not to pick up a card tonight. The record of how many yellow cards each player has is wiped after the quarterfinals.

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2015: For the Czech Republic, David Limbersky, Jaroslav Plasil, Petr Jiracek, Tomas Rosicky, Daniel Kolar and Tomas Pekhart are on a yellow card but only the first three of those names start tonight.

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Lineups:

PORTUGAL: Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, Nani, Helder Postiga, Cristiano Ronaldo.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Petr Cech, David Limbersky, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Sivok, Michal Kadlec, Jaroslav Plasil, Vaclav Pilar, Tomas Hubschman, Petr Jiracek, Vladimir Darida, Milan Baros.

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1938: Here at AP Sports, we've been asking who you think the star player of Euro 2012 has been so far, along with who has been the biggest flop, who will win the tournament, etc. Here are some of the responses we've had:

(at)carternacke: Best goal: Welbeck back heel. Best game (so far): England v. Sweden. Best player: Gomez. (via Twitter)

(at)D3_Falcons: All games have been great, Gomez best player, & Danny Welbeck's back heel goal vs. Sweden best goal (via Twitter)

(at)Dalilahermosa: For me so far the best player has been Steven Gerard!! (via Twitter)

(at)AJTheSportsGuy: Realistically Germany looks to be the best side in the tournament. Don't count Portugal out though. CR7 is finding his form

(at)Gozenhaard: Standout player - Zlatan. Flop - Huntelaar (via Twitter)

(at)monsieurcorway: Standout player has surely been Zlatan? 3 great performances with a poor team supporting him. (via Twitter)

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1920: The two best Czech players in the tournament so far have been Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar. They've each scored two goals and are the only players to get on the scoresheet. Jiracek's second of his Euro 2012 campaign was a clinical finish in a 1-0 win over Poland. It proved a decisive goal for both sides, as it saw the Czechs progress as group winner and co-host Poland eliminated. Pilar, who plays his club football in France for Bordeaux, is named 'the Czech Lionel Messi', and demonstrated why he has earned such a reputation with a well taken goal against Russia in its first game in Group A.

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1915: Ronaldo, should he continue to start on the left of a three man Portugese attack, will face Theodor Gebre Selassie, the Czech Republic right back. Gebre Selassie impressed with his performances in Group A, showing composure in defense along with a keen eye to join attacks down the right. The task of dealing with Ronaldo is an unenviable one, yet the 25-year-old will surely be confident in himself after the good form he has displayed. Gebre Selassie may have to curb his attacking instinct though, or risk leaving his defense exposed to the Real Madrid man.

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