Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up when he needed to, to help Portugal past Wales and into the Euro 2016 finalIANS

He might have had an underwhelming tournament so far, by his own ridiculously high standards. But when it mattered most, in the semifinals of Euro 2016, up against one of the feel-good teams of the European Championships, Cristiano Ronaldo showed why he is one of the best players in the world.

After a dire first half, where neither showed they were willing to throw down the gauntlet, Ronaldo changed it all in the 50th minute with a leap that would have made Vince Carter, in his pomp, proud, before setting up, albeit a little fortuitously, Nani for the second goal, three minutes later.

The 2-0 win for Portugal ended Wales' dream run in Euro 2016 and put Ronaldo's team in the final of the tournament for the first time in 12 years, when they lost to Greece in the Euro 2004 final.

The first half was rather tame, with neither team really going for that early goal, which might have made this match a lot more interesting. Gareth Bale was nice and bright for Wales, making a couple of surging runs, using his pace, while taking a couple of potshots on goal as well.

One of those shots tested Rui Patricio, albeit not too much, with the strike, off a lightning counter-attack, going straight at the Portugal goalkeeper.

Ronaldo, at the other end, could not quite get into the game, with Portugal, despite holding some decent possession, failing to force a real save out of Wayne Hennessey in the first 45.

All that changed, though, in the first ten minutes of the second half. Ronaldo, first, scored in the 50th minute with a bullet header off a corner. The Real Madrid man got free of his marker James Chester, before leaping into the air in some style and powering a header into goal, with the ball firing past Hennessey in a flash.

Three minutes later, Wales allowed Ronaldo, who joined Michel Platini as the record holder of most number of goals in the European Championships with nine, courtesy that headed winner, too much room outside the box, and the Portugal captain, not needing a second invitation, took a shot from distance. It was a rather scuffed effort, but as the Wales defenders stood rooted to their spot, Nani reacted brilliantly to deflect the ball into goal and as good as end the match as a contest.

As Wales, missing the running power and that ability to act as the link between midfield and attack of Aaron Ramsey, poured forward, without too much threat, despite the inclusions of Sam Vokes, one of the goalscorers in the fantastic 3-1 quarterfinal win over Belgium, Simon Church and Jonny Williams from the bench, space opened up for Portugal at the other end, with Joao Mario missing a simple chance to make it 3-0 after a rebound off a Hennessey save fell straight onto his path.

Ronaldo also nearly got his second goal of the match, with a freekick from 25 yards just zipping over the post, and while Bale kept peppering Rui Patricio's goal with strikes from distance, it just wasn't venomous enough to stop Portugal from picking up their first win in 90 minutes in this tournament and entering the final of Euro 2016.

Also get the full highlights of the match HERE

Also read