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Conceicao’s late goal secures Portugal’s 2-1 win over Czech Republic

Conceicao's late goal secures Portugal's 2-1 win over Czech Republic Portugal's midfielder Bruno Fernandes fights for the ball with Czech Republic's midfielder Antonin Barak during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group F football match at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 18, 2024. (AFP Photo)
By Agence France-Presse
Jun 19, 2024 1:04 AM

Francisco Conceicao scored a last-minute winner to give Portugal a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in their Euro 2024 Group F opener, after Türkiye’s win over Georgia on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old winger, who had just come off the bench, capitalized on a defensive error to complete Portugal’s comeback after Lukas Provod’s goal had put the Czechs ahead.

Provod’s strike from the edge of the box against the run of play had given the Czech Republic the lead after the hour mark. Portugal equalized through an own goal by Robin Hranac before Conceicao’s decisive intervention.

Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo in a record-extending sixth European Championship, struggled to break down the Czech defense but managed to secure the win. Ronaldo, 39, was denied on three occasions by Czech goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek and hit the post with the score tied, with Diogo Jota’s rebound goal disallowed for offside.

“We showed all our coolness and resilience. We remained calm, got the draw and always believed until the end to get the win. Luckily we managed to do it with the help of the players who came on… we are truly a team.”

Portugal midfielder Vitinha.

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez started 41-year-old defender Pepe, making him the oldest player in Euros history, surpassing Hungary’s Gabor Kiraly, who was 40 during Euro 2016. Portugal won that tournament for their first European title, a feat Ronaldo believes they can repeat despite a shaky start in Germany.

Czech Republic coach Ivan Hasek, in his first competitive game since taking over in January, saw his side frustrate Portugal for much of the match. The Czechs, who qualified unbeaten and with the most goals, stifled Martinez’s team, keeping the game competitive.

Ronaldo missed an early chance, sending an effort wide with his shoulder after a run from Rafael Leao. Bruno Fernandes’ deflected shot also went close, and Leao narrowly missed connecting with a low cross from Fernandes.

Stanek denied Ronaldo twice in the first half, both times when the striker appeared offside. Ronaldo’s clever backheel set up Vitinha, but the Czech defense blocked his shot.

Debate continues over Ronaldo’s place in the starting lineup since the 2022 World Cup, with Portugal often looking reliant on crossing to him for chances.

Stanek comfortably saved a Ronaldo free-kick before the Czechs broke the deadlock through Provod. The midfielder’s strike came after Portugal failed to clear a cross.

Portugal equalized when Stanek’s save from Nuno Mendes’ header rebounded off Hranac into the net. Ronaldo and Czech striker Patrik Schick, joint top scorers at Euro 2020, were both below their best.

Jota thought he had won it for Portugal after Ronaldo’s header hit the post, but VAR ruled Ronaldo offside. Conceicao then clinched the three points, leaving Portugal level with Türkiye at the top of Group F.

Last Updated:  Jun 21, 2024 1:53 AM