Three thoughts: Ronaldo finds form in Portugal's win over Netherlands
Once Portugal began to attack, it sliced through the Netherlands again and again. Chance after chance was missed and it was a minor miracle the Dutch got to half-time having conceded only once. Cristiano Ronaldo struck the post, Maarten Stekelenberg made two outstanding saves and Helder Postiga scuffed horribly wide before, at last, Ronaldo ran onto a superb pass from Joao Pereira and scored his first goal of the tournament.
The blizzard of chances eased a little after halftime but while the Dutch had the bulk of the ball, the best chances were all Portugal's.
Van der Vaart did hit the post again, but Portugal really should have scored a lot more than the two it did manage. The inability to convert chances, though, is an ongoing trait.
It may be, given the dearth of strikers in Portugal -- a weird historical trend; it hasn't had a top-class striker since Eusebio -- that he'd be better as a center-forward for his country, but he has apparently said he would rather play on the wing. He was exceptional there against the Dutch, a constant attacking threat, the post twice preventing him from scoring only the ninth hat-trick in European Championship history. Both his goals, perhaps significantly, came when he'd drifted inside. His surging run and pass to Fabio Coentrao just after the hour was superb, his delayed pass across goal for Nani after 72 minutes even better.
The only slightly sour note was his first goal celebration, looking into the camera and mouthing "magnifico", seemed almost angry, a pointed response to his critics. In so doing, like Samir Nasri, he turned a moment of joy for his country into a moment of personal vindication, which perhaps says something for the relief he felt. That first goal was, though, just his sixth goal in 16 tournament games for Portugal; such stats don't tell the whole story, but his critics are perhaps right to expect more.
It's not just that he made individual errors; he seems conceptually wrong for this system -- although he is rather more attacking for PSV.
If the central midfield won't provide the link between defense and front line, the full-backs have to. When Willems was withdraw midway through the second half it was for Ibrahim Afellay, a winger who came on -- a clear attempt on the part of Van Marwijk to bridge that gap.
All it did, though, was leave Nani in acres of space -- from which he created Ronaldo's second.