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Euro 2024: Portugal Leave it Late to Secure Opening Victory Over Czech Republic

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal kicked off their Euro 2024 campaign with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Czech Republic in a Group F encounter, held on June 18th, 2024. Despite controlling possession for much of the match, Portugal needed a late goal to clinch the three points.

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A Stop-Start First Half

The first half was a tight affair. Both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances. Portugal controlled the ball (738 passes to Czech Republic’s 269), but their goal attempts were limited (20 shots to 5). The Czech defense, mustered by the experienced Robin Hranac, held firm, and the score strongly stayed 0-0 at halftime.

Second Half Drama

The second half drove the game alive with dramatic encounters. Czech Republic took a surprise lead in the 62nd minute through a powerful strike from their mighty winger Lukas Provod. Portugal responded positively and found the equalizer just seven minutes later. A header from Nuno Mendes forced a save from Jindrich Stanek, but the rebound fell kindly to Hranac, who unfortunately deflected it into his own net causing his team a goal.

Late Heroics

The game remained tense as both sides pushed for a winner. Portugal brought on fresh legs, including young forward Francisco Conceição. The substitution proved decisive as in stoppage time, a defensive lapse by Hranac allowed Conceição to tap in from close range, sending the fans into surprised raptures.

Image Credit via WhoScored.com

Key Stats

Team StatisticPortugalCzech Republic
Possession73.80%26.20%
Shots205
Shots on Target21
Goals21
Passes738269
Yellow Cards21

Portugal’s Attacking Prominence

Portugal dominated their possession throughout the match with a clear preference for attacking down the flanks (40% left, 36% right). Their shot selection was finely balanced with attempts coming from all areas of the pitch (50% central, 30% left, 20% right). Although, their conversion rate remained a slight concern in the finishing sector (10%) and that might be something they should work on sooner to go great hights in the Championship.

Image Credit via Opta Analyst

Czech Republic’s Defensive Resilience

Despite conceding two goals, the Czech Republic’s defense displayed moments of solidity, particularly in the first half. Their defensive line held firm for most of the match, with Hranac’s own goal proving unfortunate. Interestingly, all their shots came from central areas, suggesting a more direct approach.

This victory gives Portugal a strong start to their Euro 2024 campaign. However, they will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to challenge for the title. Czech Republic, despite the defeat, will take heart from their defensive performance and will look to bounce back in their next match.

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