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Ronaldo returns to his devastating best
09:09 AEST Mon Jun 18 2012
  Have your say on Euro 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo's smile and swagger were back, and so was his scoring touch.

The Real Madrid forward finally found the form he was lacking at the European Championship, scoring twice in a sparkling performance on Sunday to give Portugal a 2-1 win over the Netherlands and a spot in the quarterfinals.

Poised to be written of as one of the tournament's flops, Ronaldo put a miserable two-game goalless run at Euro 2012 behind him.

"Now everything is possible," said Ronaldo, who went a long way toward silencing the critics who accused him of failing to reproduce the form he showed in a sensational 60-goal club season.

Ronaldo failed to shine in Portugal's 1-0 loss to Germany and 3-2 win over Denmark, but he was devastating against the Dutch. He produced an equaliser with his first goal of the tournament in the 28th minute and scored the winner in the 74th. He had a half dozen other attempts at goal, including a low drive that clipped the post in the 16th, and he set up two clear chances for teammates.

"Ronaldo got so much criticism in the last game and he is back now," Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said.

"That is how fast things can change."

On Sunday, Ronaldo upstaged Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie, the leading scorers in the Bundesliga and Premier League, respectively. Neither was able to find the net at the Metalist Stadium, although midfielder Rafael van der Vaart did give the Dutch an early lead.

After that, Ronaldo stole the show.

As Portugal cranked up the pressure, Ronaldo probed the Dutch back line and equalised from Joao Pereira's pass. It was the kind of chance he took so often at Real Madrid last season but wasted in Portugal's opening matches.

For his second, Ronaldo received a pass from former Manchester United teammate Nani, coolly wrong-footed his marker and tapped the ball past the goalkeeper.

"This was our best game so far," Portugal coach Paulo Bento said.

"What is most important is that we kept fighting after we lost our opening game."

After his goals, and at the final whistle, Ronaldo beckoned his teammates to celebrate, and they mobbed him. He pulled on a shirt with "Junior" printed on it, and explained later it was for his son's second birthday.

Up next for Ronaldo and his teammates is a quarterfinal match against the Czech Republic on Thursday in Warsaw.

"We really deserved to qualify for the quarterfinals," Ronaldo said.

Needing a win to have a chance at staying in the tournament, the disappointing Dutch fielded an impressive attacking lineup that needed to score at least two goals. It produced one.

"We started quite well but we were playing against one of the better teams today," Van der Vaart said.

"We lost three times. We were bad and we don't deserve to go through."

Can Ronaldo lead Portugal Euro 2012 title?
Will the Netherland be the biggest disappointment of the tournament? Is Spain your favourites for the title?
How will Greece fare against Germany?

User comments
Germany will trounce Greece 4 to 0. The Greeks only have a couple of great players, while the Germans have a star-studded team.

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