Portugal beats Croatia
Ricardo Quaresma goal in extra time
Will play Poland in last eight
Poland beats Switzerland on penalties
Portugal conjured up a last-gasp extra time winner through Ricardo Quaresma to break Croatian hearts Saturday and secure a quarterfinal place at Euro 2016.
The only significant action of a dire contest which had seen not a single shot on target came as it looked to be heading for penalties.
First Croatia hit the post through a Ivan Perisic header, but as the ball was cleared Portugal broke up field on the counter attack.
Nani found Cristiano Ronaldo for his serious goal attempt of the match, which was parried by Croatia goalkeeper Daniel Subasic, but only into the path of Quaresma to tap home.
There was still time for Domagoj Vida to hook an effort narrowly wide as Croatia pressed for the leveler but Portugal were through to play Poland for a place in the semifinals.
Ronaldo was looking to match Michel Platini’s record of nine European Championship goals to follow his two-goal display against Hungary to ensure his team made the knockout stages.
But the best chance for his side fell to defender Pepe in the first half of regulation play, heading Raphael Guerreiro’s free-kick over the bar, while Vida also had headed opportunities for Croatia.
There were no shots on target by either side during regulation play and it was a similar story until the game ignited in the last few minutes of the second half of extra time.
Shaqiri effort in vain
Earlier Saturday, Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri’s wonder goal lit up the first knockout match of Euro 2016 but it was Poland which became the first team to reach the quarterfinals after victory in a penalty shoot out.
Shaqiri equalized Jakub Blaszczykowski’s first half effort for the Poles with a spectacular volleyed bicycle kick but his effort proved in vain as the match ended 1-1 after extra time in Saint-Etienne.
Arsenal’s new signing Granit Xhaka made a hash of his spot kick in the shootout, sending his effort high and wide with Poland scoring all five of its penalties to take it 5-4.
Grzegorz Krychowiak clinched its passage with an final emphatic score as his team reached this stage of a major competition for the first time.
The Poles had the better of the first half with star striker Robert Lewandowski setting up Arkadiusz Milik for a gilt-edged chance before Borussia Dortmund’s Blaszczykowski drove home a shot on 39 minutes.
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After the break, the Swiss dominated with Lukas Fabianski forced into fine saves in the Polish goal, while Haris Seferovic hit the crossbar with a free kick.
It was left to Stoke City’s Shaqiri to score a deserved equalizer, swiveling to send an unstoppable effort past Fabianski in the 82nd minute.
Extra time saw the Swiss also forge the better opportunities with Shaqiri setting up substitute Eren Derdiyok for a close range chance, saved by Fabianski.
The scores were 1-1 in the shootout when midfielder Xhaka left Swiss fans in despair with his mishit shot, Blaszczykowski and Krychowiak keeping their nerve to convert the final two spot kicks for the triumphant Poles under immense pressure.