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MARSEILLE, July 1. /TASS/. The Portuguese national football team advanced to the semifinals of the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup after edging the Polish team 5-3 on penalties (1-1 main time) on Thursday night in French Marseille.
It was Poland to stun Portugal in the dawn of the match at the 67,000-seat capacity Stade Velodrome with Robert Lewandowksi scoring a goal in the second minute of the game making it the fastest scored goal of the tournament so far.
Over half an hour later Portugal found its way round the solid Polish defense and Renato Sanchez netted the ball into the Polish goal to tie the score at 1-1.
The 1-1 draw remained unchanged not only until both teams retreated for the break quarter an hour later but throughout the second half as well as in the additional 30 minutes of the match.
During the penalty shootout seven attempts were executed (4-3), but it was Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who dived to the left saving his team’s goal from Poland’s fourth penalty delivered by Poland’s Jakub Bіaszczykowski.
Portugal’s Ricardo Quaresma used the chance and cannoned the ball into the Polish net sealing the final score in penalties at 5-3.
"Poland are a very good team who know how to lull their opponents into a state of rest," Portugal’s Head Coach Fernando Santos was quoted by UEFA website as saying after the match. "But we did well, we played on the front foot and had the better chances, even if Poland had a few as well. I think we won fair and square against a very good team."
Although having lost the match, Poland’s Head Coach Adam Nawalka was very optimistic about the future and praised his team’s achievements at this major European football tournament.
"We've moved forward - this tournament has proven that," Nawalka said. "We were very good in both the group and knockout stages. We played some very good football. We're always trying to improve and that will be the case going into the future."
"Both teams played very well tonight," the Polish coach said. "It was a match full of challenges and tackles. The players put a lot of heart into it - on both sides."
The Portuguese squad will clash next week for the place in the final match with the winner of the Wales-Belgium game, to be held in Lille on Saturday night.
The 2016 UEFA Euro Cup is held in France between June 10 and July 10 with matches played in 10 different locations, namely in Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.
A total of 24 European national teams qualified for the Euro Cup final tournament in 2016, after the contestants’ format, which was used since 1996, was decided to be extended from 16 to 24 teams.