Final, 2-0 Portugal: The referee blows the final whistle. Portugal edges past Wales into the Euro 2016 final.
Ronaldo’s and Nani’s goals were the difference in a tightly contested, but somewhat drab, semifinal. Wales lost focus for just a moment early in the second half, giving Ronaldo time and space to elevate and head his team into the final. Nani doubled the lead just three minutes later, putting Wales into a hole from which it could not escape.
Portugal reaches a Euro final for the first time since 2004. Ronaldo was just 19 then. We’ll learn Sunday whether the now 31-year-old superstar take his country to unprecedented heights.
That’s all for now, and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion coming up on NESN.com/soccer.
90th minute, 2-0 Portugal: There will be three minutes of added time in the second half.
88th minute, 2-0 Portugal: The referee shows Bale a yellow card for a high kick on Cedric’s face.
87th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Nani departs to an ovation, as Ricardo Quaresma replaces him in Portugal’s final substitution.
86th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Ronaldo races behind the Wales defense onto a long pass, rounds Hennessey, but can’t hit his shot on target from the tightest of angles.
85th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Wales is pushing players forward in numbers, but they’re not creating anything Portugal can’t deal with.
Ramsey’s absence has been telling since Portugal went ahead. Wales has missed his creative influence.
80th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Bale shoots powerfully on goal from 35 yards out, but Patricio dives to his right and palms it away.
79th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Joao Moutinho enters and Silva exits in Portugal’s second substitution.
78th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Danilo shoots on goal. It slips under Hennessey, but the Wales goalkeeper recovers and picks it off the goal line.
77th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Bale volleys a shot on goal, but it dips right to Patricio, who makes a comfortable save.
75th minute 2-0 Portugal: Maybe Portugal finally will win a game. Ronaldo and Co. already are in uncharted territory.
74th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Andre Gomes replaces Renato Sanches in Portugal’s first substitution.
72nd minute, 2-0 Portugal: Now the referee shows Ronaldo a yellow card for kicking the ball away, as Wales lined up a free kick. Portugal has received two silly cautions in quick succession.
71st minute, 2-0 Portugal: The referee shows Bruno Alves a yellow card for interfering with Hennessey’s attempt at launching a counter-attack.
71st minute, 2-0 Portugal: Jose Fonte heads Mario’s corner kick on goal, but it flies directly into to Hennessey’s waiting hands.
66th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Wales makes its final substitution. Jonny Williams enters as Collins’ replacement.
65th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Hennessey fails to control Nani’s low drive. Mario reaches the rebound first but can’t direct his shot on target.
63rd minute, 2-0 Portugal: Wales makes a second substitution. On comes Simon Church. Robson-Kanu heads to the bench.
63rd minute, 2-0 Portugal: Ronaldo narrowly misses the target with a free kick from 30 yards out.
62nd minute, 2-0 Portugal: The referee shows James Chester a yellow card for fouling Ronaldo.
58th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Wales makes its first substitution, replacing Ledley with Sam Vokes. Off goes a midfielder, on comes a striker.
Vokes scored the third goal in Wales’ 3-1 win over Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarterfinals.
55th minute, 2-0 Portugal: Wales finds itself in a deep hole just 10 minutes into the second half.
53rd minute, 2-0 Portugal: Nani redirects Ronaldo’s shot past Wayne Hennessey. Portugal leads by two, and Wales’ Euro dream is in doubt.
This game escalated quickly.
50th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Ronaldo heads Portugal in front.
The Portugal captain rose and headed home Raphael Guerreiro’s corner kick.
Ronaldo joins esteemed company with the goal. Actually, esteemed company meets Ronaldo.
46th minute, 0-0: The second half is underway.
Ronaldo didn’t attempt a shot on goal until the 42nd minute. His past, and the teams’ Euro 2016 performances, suggest the second half will be livelier.
Halftime, 0-0: That’s the end of the first half. It’s goal-less in Lyon.
The first 45 minutes promised much but delivered little entertainment, as Portugal and Wales played to a stalemate in the opening period. The score-line reflects the teams’ respective performances, as they largely failed to threaten the opposition goal. Credit their cautious approaches and superb defending.
Portugal restricted Bale to a pair of efforts, only one of which he put on goal. Going forward, Portugal has targeted Ronaldo with long passes, but Collins has contained him so far.
The major talking point was the early penalty-kick appeal, but few referees would have made such a consequential call on that play — especially in a game of this magnitude.
44th minute, 0-0: Silva picks out Ronaldo at the back post, but the Portugal superstar fails to direct his header on target.
40th minute, 0-0: Portugal now is dominating the ball, but Wales has no problem sitting back, absorbing the pressure and breaking forward on the counter-attack.
33rd minute, 0-0: Portugal’s Adrien Silva shoots wide from around 20 yards out.
30th minute, 0-0: Both teams have created danger in the first half-hour of play. Wales has done so on fast counter-attacks and set pieces, while Portugal prefers to build play through the midfield and poke holes through the opposing defense.
25th minute, 0-0: Wales striker Hal Robson-Kanu crosses into Portugal’s penalty area for King, but Alves heads it out for a corner kick.
23rd minute, 0-0: Bale bursts forward from his own penalty area toward Portugal’s. He shoots on goal, but it flies straight to Patricio.
22nd minute, 0-0: Bale crosses dangerously into Portugal’s penalty area, but King can’t connect with the delivery. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio collects it, much to Portugal’s relief.
19th minute, 0-0: Wales’ Joe Ledley rolls a corner kick deep into Portugal’s penalty area for Bale, who fires a powerful shot wide.
16th minute, 0-0: Joao Mario surges forward but drags his shot wide in Portugal’s first attempt at Wales’ goal.
10th minute, 0-0: Portugal threatens the Wales back line for the first time, with fullbacks Cedric Soares and Raphael Guerreiro sending a pair of dangerous-looking crosses into the penalty area for Ronaldo. Wales defenders clear the passes from the area.
Portugal’s attacking strategy seems clear, as do Wales’ defensive tactics.
Eighth minute, 0-0: The referee shows Wales’ Joe Allen a yellow card for tackling Nani from behind.
Third minute, 0-0: Wales center back Ashley Williams brings down Ronaldo with a forceful tackle, but the referee doesn’t see anything wrong with it and allows play to continue.
Third minute, 0-0: Wales surprisingly has controlled the ball so far, but much of that possession has come inside its own half.
Kickoff: The Portugal-Wales Euro 2016 semifinal is under way.
Portugal’s prime minister and Charles, the Prince of Wales, are ready for the contest. Are you?
Pregame: The biggest team news is Pepe’s absence. The Portugal defender suffered a thigh injury this week and failed to recover in time for the semifinal. We expected to see Ricardo Carvalho as Pepe’s replacement at center back, but head coach Fernando Santos has opted for Bruno Alves instead.
Danilo replaces the suspended William Carvalho as Portugal’s holding midfielder.
Wales coach Chris Coleman replaces suspended defender Ben Davies with James Collins and suspended midfield playmaker Aaron Ramsey with Andy King.
Here’s a quick look at how Ronaldo and Bale have fared at Euro 2016 and a look at their respective La Liga (Spanish first division) campaigns with Real Madrid.
2:30 p.m.: Here are the starting lineups:
2 p.m. ET: Portugal’s national soccer team literally has drawn its way to the brink of history. In its way stands Wales, the debut darlings of the 2016 UEFA European Championship.
The teams have lived charmed existences at Euro 2016, but one of their campaigns will end Wednesday at the Stade de Lyone in France, when they face off in the semifinals. Many have billed the game as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Wales’ Gareth Bale, but teams don’t reach this point in major international competitions on the back of one player. Both sides have succeeded collectively and deserve the reward that is a semifinal appearance.
Portugal has drawn its last six games in normal time, yet its extra-time and penalty-kick prowess has taken it through two of the four knockout rounds. The semifinals are Portugal’s domain, with the Iberian nation appearing in four of the last five Euro semifinals. Can Portugal break its semifinal jinx and return to the final for the first time since 2004?
Wales is participating in its first European Championship, but the country’s progress belies its inexperience in the tournament. Wales has married its strong defense and extraordinary team spirit with offensive punch in France, becoming the first debutante to reach the last four since Sweden in 1992.
Portugal-Wales kicks off at 3 p.m. ET. Join us right here for all the action from Lyon.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/UEFA.tv
Thumbnail photo via Cristiano Ronaldo practices ahead of the Portugal-Wales Euro 2016 semifinal.