What is a bitter disappointment for Robert Lewandowski is a reason to celebrate for Renato Sanches. Poland fell 5-3 on penalties to Portugal in the EURO 2016 quarter-finals on Thursday. After 120 minutes without spectacular highlights the scoreline had been 1-1.
“It hurts. We lost against a team that perhaps had more possession, but not more chances. It’s very disappointing,” said Poland captain Lewandowski, visibly sad. “We haven’t lost a match in the tournament and now we’re out. Our opponents haven’t won a match and are through to the semi-finals.”
Poland and the FCB striker made a perfect start in Marseille. Lewy netted after only 100 seconds, handing his side an early lead. His first goal in the tournament was the second-fastest in the history of European championships.
Sanches ‘Man of the Match’
Portugal levelled it up after the half-hour. Sanches, who officially became a Bayern pro on Friday, crowned his first starting appearance in the EURO with his first goal for Portugal. He left Poland keeper Lukasz Fabianski no chance with his deflected, left-footed drive from the edge of the box. At 18 years and 317 days Sanches is the third-youngest scorer in EURO history and the youngest to score in the knockout stage.
“I’m very happy. It’s a wonderful moment for the team and for me,” commented the midfielder, who was voted Man of the Match for tirelessly supplying impetus. “He’s a wonderful player and turned in a great display,” praised Portugal head coach Fernando Santos: “He’s still developing. He’ll be an even better player in the future.”
Without a single victory in the tournament after 90 minutes, Portugal are through to the last four after Sanches and all his team-mates scored from the spot whereas keeper Rui Patricio saved Jakub Blaszczykowski’s penalty. “That’s no luck. It’s the result of a lot of hard work. You earn your luck that way. Now we’re in for an enormous challenge in the semi-finals. We’ve taken another step towards our goal,” explained Sanches.
Portugal take on Wales or Belgium in the last four on Wednesday. Poland, who have made it to the Euro quarter-finals for the first time in their history, sign off, but “it was a historical performance for Polish football nonetheless,” said Lewandowski.
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