Cristiano Ronaldo. (Getty)
For Portugal's all-important final group stage match against the Netherlands, Cristiano Ronaldo sent underachieving twin brother Barry home and continued to live up to comparisons to Fernando Torres (who had a brace against Ireland) by scoring both goals in his side's 2-1 win. That confirmed Portugal's place in the quarterfinals and served as a final piece of evidence that this Netherlands team, which lost all three of their Group of Death matches after scoring more than any other team in qualifying, was terrible.
Given Ronaldo's shortcomings in the first two group matches, this game was perfectly set up to be all about him and he was just fine with that. It took Cristiano 11 shots -- the highest single-game total from a player in a Euros match since 1980 -- to score his decisive two goals to equalize in the 28th minute and put Portugal ahead in the 74th. At the end of the match, he had 12 shots with four on target (two hit the post). The Netherlands, as a team, had 14 shots and three on target.
Though his total number of goals at major tournaments can still be questioned, 27-year-old Ronaldo is now the only Portugese player to score in five of them. And that deserves respect, even if it's an amount that Cristiano would deem insufficient.
So with Portugal in the quarterfinals, Ronaldo's own comparison to Lionel Messi/Argentina's run in last summer's Copa America (which is unfair to himself more than anything) can limp along a bit further. If he can continue to carry Portugal a bit further, perhaps he'll get a he will silence a few more of those equally unfair Messi chants with which he's been target. Or maybe not. But a much deserved Ballon d'Or could be waiting for him.
And now, in place of a few globs of information I just made up about him to help you know him better, here is Cristiano's undershirt birthday message to his son. "Junior, dad loves you. Happy birthday." it says with a smiley face in the first "o."
- Sports & Recreation
- Cristiano Ronaldo