Quaresma Portugal Croatia
Ricardo Quaresma scores the winner for Portugal in their Euro 2016 last 16 match against CroatiaReuters

After 116 minutes of the most awfully-dull football you will see in these European Championships, Portugal finally showed some speed in their attack, Cristiano Ronaldo found some space to take a shot, the ball was saved, it fell to Ricardo Quaresma for a tap-in, and just like that Portugal sneaked past Croatia 1-0, in a match that neither team deserved to win.

If there ever was a case for both teams to be sent home for playing we-do-not-want-to-lose football, this was it, but Portugal will not care, because they are through to the quarterfinals against Poland.

The moment the game started, with neither team setting any kind of tempo, this game had extra time, and, most likely, penalties written all over it.

It might be the fear of losing an early goal or the pressure of the big stage getting to them, but neither team looked remotely capable of troubling the goalkeepers, with both Rui Patricio and Danijel Subasic enjoying such comfortable outings, that the managers might as well have brought an extra outfield player for them – even that would not have made any difference to the chances created, though.

The clearest – and only chance -- of the first 45 fell to Pepe, who was given space inside the box off a freekick from Raphael Guerrero, with his header going well over, when it should have really tested Subasic. Pepe was offside when the ball was played in by the Portugal left-back, but the flag stayed down, leaving the Portugal defender disappointed at not being able to do better.

All the neutrals and the Portuguese and Croatian fans at the stadium would have prayed for some sort of improvement from both teams in the second 45, some desire to get forward, some urgency in the final third, but there was very little change to the pattern of play, and that is despite the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani being on the pitch.

Nani, on his 100th appearance, did come close to opening the scoring – well, as close as you can come in such a match – when a pass from Adrien Silva over the Croatia defence fell to him, but a control with the chest took the ball away from him.

Vida had Croatia's best chance of the 90 minutes at the other end, but his header, taken off the head of Mario Mandzukic, off a Rakitic freekick, went wide, when it should have really been nestling in the bottom corner.

Renato Sanches was brought on in the 50th minute by Fernando Santos for Andre Gomes, and while the midfielder brought a bit more directness to Portugal's attacks, there was very little end product, with Ronaldo cutting an isolated figure.

The game meandered towards extra time, and in those 30 minutes as well, neither team looked capable of scoring, with Vida, again, coming close courtesy a header at the far post, before Perisic struck the base of the post with a header.

Seconds after that chance, Portugal sprang on the counter, with Renato Sanches finding Nani on the left. The winger's cross found its way through to Ronaldo at the far post, with the Portuguese captain's shot brilliantly saved by Subasic. However, Quaresma was there to pounce on the rebound and tap-in, with Croatia throwing that kitchen sink far too late to force the match into the penalty shootout.

Watch the highlights of the match HERE

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