Cristiano Ronaldo rediscovered his shooting boots with two goals that saw Portugal reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 courtesy of a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands. After another incoherent performance from the Dutch they are heading home with an ignominious record of three defeats from their three group games. (Scroll down for highlights)
Things had looked good for the Oranje early on as Rafael van der Vaart gave them a deserved lead in the 11th minute. But after Ronaldo equalized before the half-hour mark, the Netherlands never looked like getting a two goal victory they needed to give themselves a chance of an unlikely place in the last eight. Ronaldo getting a second on the break late on that confirmed that Portugal will face a quarter-final encounter with the Czech Republic,
After long being urged to do so by the Dutch press, coach Bert van Marwijk finally brought in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar up front and Van der Vaart in midfield to give his side more attacking impetus. In another change Ron Vlaar came in for Johnny Heitinga at the back.
And the alterations looked to having the desired effect as the Dutch began as if they were ready to set about their task with real purpose and commitment.
Wesley Sneijder had missed an early half chance, but the Dutch did not have to wait long to break the deadlock . And it came courtesy of the man brought in as skipper.
Arjen Robben drifted in from the right in trademark fashion, but this time elected against firing a shot in himself and instead laid it off to Van der Vaart, who opened up his body before executing a perfect curled finish into the far corner from 25 yards.
Needing at least a draw themselves, Portugal were forced to show more attacking intent. As they did so, they received nothing but encouragement from some truly abject Dutch defending.
The first warning came as Ronaldo picked up possession on the left and sauntered past Vlaar before dragging a right-footed shot against the outside of the near post from just inside the box.
The errors continued as Helder Postiga's tame shot spared Van der Wiel's blushes after a playing a pass back to the striker on the edge of the box.
The chances kept coming with unrelenting regularity. Raul Meireles struck a volley into the side netting from a poor defensive header and then Ronaldo came close once more with a strong header that Stekelenburg parried away.
It was surely a matter of time before Portugal got on the score sheet and so it proved, with Ronaldo fittingly the man to get the goal.
Jetro Willems, who has been exposed all competition long, never more so than today, played a loose pass in the Dutch defensive third allowing Portugal to attack yet again. After biding their time, Joao Perieira cut in from the right and played a precise ball with the outside of his boot to expose the lumbering Vlaar once more and allowing Ronaldo to get in behind to this time finish with his customary composure past Stekelenburg at the near post.
Ronaldo now had a familiar swagger about him and could have added to his tally before the break. A trademark long range shot struck with swerve and dip aplenty needed Stekelenburg to be alert to parry away.
The Real Madrid forward will feel he should have done better, though, with a near post header from a corner that he put wide of the post.
Looking like a team in utter disarray, things could only get better, at least in terms of the performance, for the Dutch. And they came out displaying more composure to begin the second period.
Unfortunately for the Oranje, Vlaar's wretched performance continued in the opposition area as he missed the chance for a clear header in front of goal with the ball instead hitting his shoulder and sailing over the bar.
At the other end, Ronaldo was continuing to be the match's dominant performer. It was his scuffed ball that set-up Helder Postiga to finish before being correctly ruled out for offside.
For all their possession, with Sneijder, unsurprisingly, struggling on the left and Robin van Persie and Robben faring no better alongside him, the much vaunted Huntelaar was struggling to have any impact on the game.
As time ticked away the Dutch began pouring forward with ever increased abandon, exacerbated when Ibrahim Afellay came on for Willems, allowing craters of open space for Portugal to expolit on the break.
Portugal's place in the last eight could have been eased earlier as Ronadlo got in completely free down the left and coasted infield before laying it across invitingly for Nani to finish, but instead Stekelenburg got across to produce a save that he was never entitled to make.
But the result was finally sealed just minutes later, as Nani returned the favor by laying it on the plate for his former Manchester United teammate.
Joao Moutinho released Nani on the right and the winger squared the ball across the box for Ronaldo, who cut inside Van der Wiel to leave him stricken on the ground before finishing with conviction low inside the near post.
The Netherlands' chances of progressing had received the final death-knell.
Van der Vaart tried to give his fans a farewell smile as he curled a stunning strike from distance that had Rui Patricio grasping at thin air before seeing the ball cannon off his far post.
Ronaldo repeated the trick at the othe rend n the final minute, as he came agonizingly close to securing the match ball with a left-footed strike that struck the woodwork.