x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo leads Portugal's path to Euro 2012

Republic of Ireland, the Czech Republic and Croatia all progress in their Euro 2012 play-off matches for next year's tournament.

Cristiano Ronaldo takes on two Bosnian defenders. The Portugal captain scored twice in their 6-2 win to advance to the Euro 2012 finals.
Cristiano Ronaldo takes on two Bosnian defenders. The Portugal captain scored twice in their 6-2 win to advance to the Euro 2012 finals.

Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland confirmed their place in their first European Championship finals since 1988 after easing to a 5-1 aggregate win over Estonia in Dublin.

The Irish had effectively sealed victory with a 4-0 win in Tallinn in the first leg of their qualifying play-off on Friday, and they completed the job with a 1-1 draw in front of a joyous home crowd.

Stephen Ward slotted home the opener on 31 minutes after Pavel Londak, the Estonian goalkeeper, had parried a Kevin Doyle effort into his path, snuffing out even the slimmest of chances for the visitors.

With the home side cruising, Estonia grabbed an equaliser out of nowhere in the 57th minute when Konstantin Vassilijev let fly from 25 yards with a shot which caught out Shay Given as it crashed into the back of the net.

The Czech Republic joined Ireland in the finals after negotiating a potentially tricky night in Montenegro, Petr Jiracek's 81st minute goal enough to give the Czechs a 1-0 win on the night and 3-0 on aggregate.

The home side will rue a pair of first half misses from Mirko Vucinic, with one close-range effort flying over the bar and his second superbly saved by Petr Cech, the Czech keeper, before Jiracek's winner ended the tie.

Croatia played out a goalless draw against Turkey in Zagreb which earned Slaven Bilic's men a 3-0 aggregate victory following their heroics in Istanbul on Friday night.

Colin Kazim-Richards hit the post for Turkey in the fourth minute but Croatia looked most likely to break the deadlock with Ivan Rakitic forcing a superb fingertip save out of Sinan Bolat.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Helder Postiga both scored twice as Portugal reached the finals with a 6-2 win over Bosnia but the score line did little justice to the drama at Lisbon's Stadium Of Light.

The visitors, who had held on for a gallant goalless draw in the first leg in Bosnia, twice narrowed the deficit to a single goal despite being hampered by the 54th minute sending off of Senad Lucic.

A thunderous eighth minute free-kick from Ronaldo and an even more powerful long-range drive from Nani on 24 minutes appeared to have settled home nerves and sent the favourites through.

But Zvjezdan Misimovic ensured the outcome of the game still hung by a thread at half-time after he converted a 41st minute penalty awarded after Fabio Coentrao was ruled to have handled in the box.

Portugal regained the initiative through Ronaldo on 53 and when Lulic was shown a straight red card immediately afterwards for arguing with the referee, it appeared the Bosnian challenge was finally over.

But the visitors reduced the deficit again on 65 through Emir Spahic before the 10 men tired, with two late Postiga strikes and a free-kick from Miguel Veloso giving a lopsided look to the score line.

Some of the other teams who had already qualified for the finals were also in action in friendlies as they continued their preparations for next June's 16-team tournament.

World and European champions Spain were held 2-2 by Costa Rica, needing a late goal from David Silva, the Manchester City playmaker, and a stoppage-time equaliser from David Villa to spare their blushes against lowly opponents who led 2-0 by half time.

That result came just three days after Spain were beaten 1-0 by England, who overcame Sweden by the same score line at Wembley on Tuesday to end a 43-year wait for a win over the Swedes thanks to a 22nd-minute own goal by Daniel Majstorovic.

Euro 2008 runners-up Germany inflicted a 3-0 defeat on the 2010 World Cup runners-up Holland with Thomas Mueller, Miroslav Klose and Mesut Ozil getting the goals in a ruthless attacking display against their neighbours.

Euro 2004 winners Greece slumped to a 3-1 defeat in Austria against Romania, who have not qualified for next year's finals but who nevertheless ended their opponents' 17-match unbeaten run, while Italy lost 1-0 to Uruguay.

There were boos in Paris as former world and European champions France laboured to a 0-0 draw with Belgium, who will not be appearing at the continental showpiece, even though the result extended the hosts' unbeaten run to 17 games.

The qualifiers

Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
England
France
Germany
Greece
Holland
Italy
Poland
Portugal
Republic of Ireland
Ukraine
Russia
Spain
Sweden