Ronaldo leads Portugal into Euro 16 final

Jul 6, 2016 - 10:37 PM Cristiano Ronaldo has upstaged Gareth Bale to propel Portugal into its second European Championship final, scoring a thumping header and then setting up Nani's goal in a 2-0 win over Wales.

The goals on Wednesday came in the space of three minutes early in the second half in Lyon, helping end Wales' unlikely run to the semi-finals in only its second ever major tournament.

Ronaldo equalled France great Michel Platini's record of nine goals in European Championship football when he timed a prodigious leap to perfection and planted home a header in the 50th.

The Real Madrid star then sent in a long-range shot that a sliding Nani diverted into the net from 10 metres.

Ronaldo - a serial winner in individual and team prizes in club football - will get another chance to win his first trophy on the international stage against either France or Germany in Sunday's final at the Stade de France.

"It's what we have dreamt of since the beginning," Ronaldo said. "We knew it would be a long road and we're still in the tournament."

Portugal last competed in a final at Euro 2004, when the team surprisingly lost on home soil to Greece.

A 19-year-old Ronaldo shed tears after that match, but he has managed to lead a much weaker side to another international showpiece.

Ronaldo shared a long conversation with Bale after the final whistle and the Madrid teammates embraced.

This could have been the match where Bale emerged from Ronaldo's shadow, but that will have to wait.

"It's very disappointing to be so close to the final," Bale said, "but we have to be proud. This is a proud moment for us, we have achieved a lot."

Portugal had lost five of its previous six semi-final matches in major tournaments.

After the final whistle, Wales headed over to applaud their fans, who didn't stop singing in the corner of the Stade de Lyon.

"We have no regrets," Bale said. "We're a proud nation and proud of what we achieved."

Meanwhile, Portugal - defying pre-tournament expectations - is heading to Saint-Denis as Ronaldo chases that elusive international title.

"We had difficult moments," Ronaldo said, "but it's like I always say, it's better to start poorly and have a positive ending, The dream is still alive."

Source: AAP

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