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Portugal to face Poland in Euro quarters

Associated Press Associated Press 25/06/2016 By Graham Dunbar

Cristiano Ronaldo created a rare chance and substitute Ricardo Quaresma finished it off, helping Portugal to beat Croatia 1-0 and advance to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

They settled a poor game on Saturday (Sunday AEST) in the 117th minute with their only serious attack, when Ronaldo's one shot all match was parried by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic across the goalmouth in the second half of extra time.

Quaresma stooped to head the ball into an unguarded net from close range.

They were the only shots or headers on target in the entire game, and ended a fast counter attack just after Croatia forward Ivan Perisic had struck the post with a header.

Portugal will now play Poland in the quarter-finals on Thursday (Friday AEST) in Marseille.

Clearly in the weaker half of the bracket, Portugal have avoided Spain, Italy, Germany and France until the final on July 10.

Somehow, Portugal and 31-year-old Ronaldo can still win a first major trophy despite three draws in the group stage and looking incapable of scoring in a cautious, mistake-filled match in the round of 16.

Days after beating two-time defending champion Spain, Croatia is heading home.

"Croatia is the team that played the best football in the group stages," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said through a translator.

"Today we were the lucky ones, but I think it was fair."

The match only sparked into life in the closing minutes, and Croatia's best chances fell to defender Domagoj Vida.

His header from a corner in extra time flew over an unguarded goal, and - in a frantic final push - his hooked shot flew just wide.

Nothing so clear fell to Luka Modric, and the Croatia playmaker left the field in tears. A third straight European Championship ended for him without winning a knockout match.

"Sometimes the better team doesn't win and that's the case tonight," Croatia coach Ante Cacic said through a translator.

Ronaldo stays on in France as an another team leader, whose most decisive and unselfish acts in the 90 minutes were two clearances in his own penalty area.

Still, after being so prolific in the group stage - Ronaldo's 32 goal attempts had been more than eight team totals, including Italy's - his first attempt in Lens helped Portugal into the last eight.

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