Cristiano Ronaldo played a starring role for Portugal in their Euro 2016 semi-final win over Wales on Wednesday night.
The Portuguese captain scored a magnificent header five minutes into the second half - his third goal of the tournament - and then set up Nani for Portugal’s second of the night three minutes later.
Ronaldo cut a delighted figure at the full-time whistle; Sunday’s match against either France or Germany will be the second major international final of his career.
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The 31-year-old suffered heartache in the Euro 2004 final.
Portugal were favourites to beat Greece on home soil but slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat against their underdog opponents at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon.
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Ronaldo predicts Portugal will win Euro 2016 final
However, Ronaldo has predicted that Sunday’s final match will be very different for both himself and his Portuguese teammates.
"I hope that this time we have something to smile about - or at least if there are tears they are tears of joy,” Ronaldo told Portuguese public broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP), per AS, after the match. "It's a dream, I've always said it, to win something for Portugal. We are a little closer and I think that were going to win.”
The three-time Ballon d’Or winner added: "This is something I've dreamed about right from the start. We knew that we had a long road ahead of us, but we have always been in the fight. We believed from the beginning, even when we were going through through quite a complicated moment, but like I always say... you can start badly and end well.
”Our coach, these players, the medical department... they all deserve this. We still haven't won anything, but the dream's still alive".
Euro 2016 victory would boost Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or hopes
Ronaldo will be acutely aware that victory in the Euro 2016 final would boost his chances of winning a fourth Ballon d’Or next January.
The Real Madrid superstar is the current favourite to secure the prestigious individual accolade after helping Los Blancos win a record-breaking 11th European Cup in May.
And his odds shortened further last week after Lionel Messi missed a crucial penalty in the 2015 Copa America final against Chile.
That the Barcelona star was handed a 21-month suspended prison sentence for tax offences on Wednesday may also increase Ronaldo’s chances of winning the coveted individual accolade.
However, Ronaldo will need to be on top of his game this Sunday if Portugal are to be crowned European champions.
Regardless of whether it’s France or Germany who qualify for the final, Portugal will head into the match as the underdogs.
Will Portugal win Euro 2016? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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