Portugal 2-1 Czechia: Martinez substitutes help Ronaldo and co. earn Euro 2024 comeback win

News Desk
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo claps during a match
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo claps during a match

A last-gasp goal from substitute Francisco Conceicao earned Portugal a valuable comeback victory over Group F rivals Czechia in their Euro 2024 opener.

Roberto Martinez’s team looked to be heading for a shock defeat when Lukas Provod scored with a sublime finish against the run of play midway through the second half, before an own goal from Robin Hranac drew them level shortly afterwards.

Portugal and Ronaldo win Euro 2024 opener

The Czechs clung on bravely against a barrage of Portugal pressure, but were ultimately undone as the substitute Conceicao lashed the ball home on his competitive debut to seal the win.

Bruno Fernandes had Portugal’s first real sight of goal midway through the first half, sending a left-foot rocket narrowly over the crossbar as Martinez’s side sought to capitalise on early domination of the ball. Moments later, Rafael Leao was inches from reaching a low cross that fizzed across goal from Fernandes.

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Cristiano Ronaldo ought to have opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark when he was played in by a fine through-ball from Fernandes, the captain at the heart of Portugal’s best attacking moves. Czech goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek was alert and raced from his goal to block.

The Czech goal came just after the hour and was entirely against the run of play. Vladimir Coufal recovered the ball as Portugal failed to fully clear a cross from the left, knocking it back to the unmarked Provod. Before Portugal could get out to close him down, the midfielder pulled back his right boot and sent an unstoppable shot swinging into Diogo Costa’s far corner.

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The lead was short-lived, and in the 69th minute Portugal were level. Stanek attempted to parry away a header across goal from Nuno Mendes but succeeded only in pushing it against the shin of Hranac and in.

Diogo Jota thought he had won it with an 87th-minute header, only to be denied by VAR for offside against Ronaldo, before Conceicao nicked it at the death.

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