Portugal Vs Croatia
Portugal advanced to a quarter-final against Poland thanks to Ricardo Quaresma’s decisive goal three minutes from the end of extra time but, unbelievably, it had taken that long to produce an attempt on target. This was a shocking match, barely redeemed by a frantic last few minutes. Croatia were easily the better side but they were punished for playing too cagey a game and not making the most of their superiority. Cristiano Ronaldo was quiet throughout, like everyone else, yet his contribution was still significant. When Nani found him in the area after almost two hours of sterile, boring football, he became the first player all night to test a goalkeeper. It is possible that Rui Patrício touched Ivan Perisic’s header on to a post seconds before Portugal swept upfield to score, but according to Uefa’s statistics Croatia had zero attempts on target. Ronaldo definitely had one, and made it count. Danijel Subasic stopped his shot but could not hold it and Quaresma was left with a simple follow-up. Portugal looked a spent force for much of the game. Croatia must be kicking themselves, but have no one else to blame. “We dominated the game but we didn’t score,” the Croatian coach, Ante Cacic, said. “So the best team lost. It happens in football.” His opposite number, Fernando Santos, thought it was a very tactical match. He did not say stalemate but that could be what he meant. “Croatia played the best football in the group.
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Wales Vs Northern Ireland In many respects, it was fitting that an own goal ought to prove decisive, because this was one of the tougher watches of Euro 2016. Wales did not care and their delight knew no limits when Gareth McAuley stretched out one of those long legs to divert Gareth Bale’s cross into his own net. The Northern Ireland centre-half wanted to be somewhere else; anywhere else. Wales have penned the latest chapter to a historic campaign – their first at theEuropean Championship and their first at a major finals since their appearance at the 1958 World Cup, when they reached the quarter-finals. They now have another one to look forward to, and it will be against Belgium or Hungary in Lille on Friday.
Poland Vs Switzerland
Eighteen years after Argentina ousted England from the World Cup on penalties in the last knockout tie here, Poland beat Switzerland in the same manner to become the first team in Euro 2016’s quarter-finals. Granit Xhaka’s sliced spot-kick, the only one of 10 missed, proved decisive in a game which the Swiss dominated the closing stages, inspired by Xherdan Shaqiri. “Granit can cope with it,” said the game’s outstanding player. “I hope that in the last 16 in the World Cup [in 2018] he’ll score, and I’m sure he will.” The coach Vladimir Petkovic, who said he was “very sorry” for Xhaka, applauded his side, who “gave everything”. If Adam Nawalka, the Poland coach, felt any relief after his team withstood a near onslaught from Switzerland as the second half – and extra time – progressed, he hid it well. “It was very difficult,” he admitted, “but we were prepared for that. The Swiss team is a world-class side.” Certainly it was hard to fault Nawalka’s preparation for the shootout. Poland had practised penalties this week, and had already formulated the names and order of the kickers. Nawalka said he chose to “refresh the list” after extra time but that “the players confirmed they were ready to take the penalties”.
United set to sign Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan
Manchester United are closing in on two major signings with deals for the Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic looking likely after a busy Saturday. José Mourinho is keen to sign both players as he steps up his recruitment drive before his first season in charge at Old Trafford. Mkhitaryan has one year left on his contract at the Bundesliga club and, while Dortmund have publicly said that he is not for sale, they have now admitted that the player is ready to move on. United are ready to bid £30m for the 27-year-old and are confident that Dortmund will accept their offer. The Armenian, who joined Dortmund in 2013 from Shakhtar Donetsk for £23.5m, is looking for a new challenge and is desperate to play in the Premier League despite an offer of a pay rise to remain at his current club. Both Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic are represented by Mino Raiola and the Italian agent, while overseeing the potential Mkhitaryan deal, met with the Swede on Saturday to go through Manchester United’s offer again. Ibrahimovic has already agreed a salary with the club and is now just waiting to talk to Mourinho about his role in the team. United are prepared to offer the 34-year-old a one-year contract worth £220,000-a-week and the Swede is expected to fly to Manchester in the first week of July in the hope to clinch a deal.