Portugal almost enjoyed the best of nights on Saturday by beating Hungary 3-0 in Lisbon. In the other decisive match in Group A, Swedenâ€™s loss to Denmark benefited the Portuguese who then moved onto second in the table.
However, the 2004 European Championship runners-upâ€™s relief was tarnished by Cristiano Ronaldoâ€™s fitness issues. The Real Madrid winger suffered another ankle injury and had to leave the pitch even before half time.
Portugal badly needed to come out victorious from the encounter on Saturday. At the same time, they had to pray that Sweden did not beat the Danes in Denmark.
That is exactly what happened indeed. Cristiano Ronaldo set up Atletico Madridâ€™s Simao Sabrosa for the opening goal at the 17th minute. In fact, Hungaryâ€™s goalkeeper Gabor Babos only had himself to blame for that goal as he should have kept hold of Ronaldoâ€™s ball from a cross.
Portugal were in search of a second goal and despite trying hard, they could not manage to do so in the first period. Cristiano Ronaldoâ€™s substitution on 30 minutes almost inflicted an insurmountable fear on the Portuguese. Portugal coach Carlos Queiros admitted Ronaldo’s contribution for the team’s victory on Saturday night. He stated:
“Ronaldo’s involvement in the first goal was crucial in calming us down.
“It is unfortunate that he was injured.”
Fortunately enough for Ronaldoâ€™s country, the second period was all theirs. Striker Liedson doubled Portugalâ€™s tally on 73 minutes with a header and Simao Sabrosa grabbed his brace 11 minutes from normal time with a terrific shot.
With Sweden losing away to Denmark, Portugalâ€™s victory over Hungary took them up to second in the table. The Portuguese chances of clinching an automatic place in the finals is well and truly dead as five points separate them from the leaders Denmark with one game remaining.
On Wednesday, Portugal play against Malta but one man who will definitely miss this match is captain Cristiano Ronaldo.