The first quarter-final of Euro 2016 between Poland and Portugal went right down to the wire at Marseille, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s side came out on top and progressed through to the semi-final on penalties.

Rui Patricio was the hero on the night for Portugal, as he saved a decisive Jakub Błaszczykowski penalty in the shoot-out to hand Portugal their second consecutive Euro semi-final experience . Błaszczykowski, who was Poland’s driving force en-route to the quarterfinals this tournament, missed his penalty that handed the opportunity to Ricardo Quaresma to take home the honours for Portugal and the 32-year-old duly obliged.

Portugal's goalkeeper Rui Patricio stops a penalty shot by Poland's midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski during the Euro 2016 quarter-final football match between Poland and Portugal at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on June 30, 2016. / AFP / BORIS HORVAT (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

The game began on a fabulous note with Robert Lewandowski scoring the second fastest goal in the competition to give his side an early lead. The Bayern Munich striker broke a seven-game scoreless duck and handed the Polish an opportunity to make it to the final four.

However, Portugal pulled themselves back into the scheme of things through a brilliantly struck effort from Renato Sanches. The new Bayern Munich signing showed great control in switching the ball between his feet, to fire home a left-footed strike that took a deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak into Fabianski’s goal.

For the second time in the knock-out stages, penalties were needed to separate the two sides, and Poland were involved on both occasions. Having beaten Switzerland in the round of 16, the Polish were now tasked with beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal to seal their progress through to the semifinals, after the game ended 1-1 at the end of normal and extra time.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 30: Jakub Blaszczykowski of Poland reacts after the penalty saved by Rui Patricio of Portugal at the penalty shootout during the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter final match between Poland and Portugal at Stade Velodrome on June 30, 2016 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

However after six (three each) well converted penalties, Błaszczykowski missed his to leave it to Besiktas’s Quaresma, who sealed the deal for the Portuguese, as they now make it to their fourth semi-final in the last five editions of the European Championships.

Manager Reactions

Portugal : Fernando Santos

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Portuguese boss Fernando Santos was a delighted man as he watched his side take the honours in a big quarter-final clash over the Polish. Speaking to the media after an exhausting 120 minutes he said (via UEFA), “As we move further along, we get closer to our goal. We have the drive and ambition and we want to bring great joy to the Portuguese people. Penalties are a lottery but you have to show a lot of character.

“I knew Poland were great at spot kicks because they won on penalties in the last round but I told my players to stay calm because I knew they would score.”

Poland started really well but I had a strategy with William Carvalho, Renato Sanches and Adrien Silva closing their players down. We let them take over the game for a bit and weren’t able to control [Arkadiusz] Milik, so I spoke to Renato Sanches to change things and asked Nani to drop a bit deeper. Thankfully we got the goal through Renato.

“Poland are a very good team, who know how to lull their opponents into a state of rest. But we did well; we played on the front foot and had the better chances, even if Poland had a few as well. We won fair and square against a very good team.”

Poland : Adam Nawałka

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The 2012 hosts Poland have been among the surprise packages in the quarter-finals, playing some good football along the way and showing tremendous progress under boss Adam Nawałka. Speaking after the game, Nawalka admitted there was an air of disappointment in the dressing room, especially after they were dumped out due to penalties.

He said, “It’s definitely a tough moment for us. The players put a lot of heart into this match and played bravely throughout the tournament. We haven’t lost a match; we were knocked out on penalties.”

“There will be soon be time for detailed analysis but at the moment this defeat hurts. We’ve moved forward, this tournament has proved that. We were very good in both the group and knockout stages. We’re always trying to improve and that will be the case going into the future.”

“The team works as one. The team spirit was our driving force here. We need to think about what we’ve achieved here and continue to move forward. There’s no need to grieve for too long; it’s just a disappointment. I want to thank all the players for the heart and ambition they showed in all our matches. We can only be happy.”

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