Portugal’s road to glory at Euro 2016 wasn’t a conventional one.
In fact, under the rules that UEFA set for the competition up until the 2012 iteration, Portugal wouldn’t have even reached the knockout stages having finished third in their group.
The Selecao staggered and stumbled their way into the round of 16 despite not winning a single group game by way of UEFA expanding the number of nations to 24.
Portugal’s rocky road to glory
And even from that point onwards, Portugal only actually won one game in 90 minutes with Eder famously scoring a dramatic winner against France in extra time of the final.
However, of all the close shaves that Cristiano Ronaldo and co experienced that summer, none were more threatening than their quarter-final clash with Poland in Marseille.
Not only did Portugal finds themselves 1-0 down to a Robert Lewandowski goal in the opening exchanges, but the game trundled all the way through extra time and to a penalty shootout.
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Portugal vs Poland penalties
It’s a means of deciding games that is lottery-like in general, but felt particularly close to home for Portugal on the back of a crushing semi-final defeat to Spain on penalties at Euro 2012.
And one of the players who missed in that particular clash, Joao Moutinho, was clearly rattled by the prospect of once again stepping up to the plate when his country depended on him at the Euros.
In fact, it took some fantastic leadership from Ronaldo as Portugal captain to convince him to chance his arm, which proved to be an inspired decision with Moutinho finding the net.
Ronaldo motivates Moutinho to score
Footage that still looks remarkable to this day showed Ronaldo motivating Moutinho to score his penalty with the sort of inspirational pep talk you’d expect from a Hollywood movie.
According to Goal, Ronaldo saw Moutinho keeping a low-profile by the dugout and proceeded to say: “Hey! Hey! Come kick, come kick.
“Come. You hit them well! If we lose then f*** it! Be strong, come on, be strong. You hit them well, come on! It’s in God’s hands now.”
Talk about some proactive leadership from Ronaldo and it couldn’t have paid off any more with the Selecao winning 5-3 on penalties courtesy of Jakub Błaszczykowski’s miss from 12 yards.
Ronaldo’s superb leadership
Ronaldo himself took the first spot-kick for Portugal, duly finding the net, before the queue of Renato Sanches, Moutinho, Nani and Ricardo Quaresma all stepped up to fire their penalties into the net.
Would things have gone differently if Ronaldo hadn’t have intervened? Well, that’s difficult to say, but there’s no denying that he helped give Moutinho the confidence to fire past Łukasz Fabiański.
And you wouldn’t put it past Ronaldo to produce something similarly Herculean at Euro 2020 either, would you?