Fernando Santos hailed Portugal's strength of character after they kept their European Championship defence alive with a 2-2 draw against France in Budapest.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a penalty in each half of the Euro 2020 fixture to move level with Ali Daei as the most prolific international footballer of all time on 109 goals.

When Karim Benzema's second goal of a gripping contest at the Puskas Arena gave world champions France a 2-1 lead two minutes into the second half, Portugal – who suffered a chastening 4-2 defeat to Germany last weekend – were staring at elimination.

But superstar captain Ronaldo induced a handball from Jules Kounde that was punished by whistle-happy referee Mateu Lahoz and stepped up to do the rest.

"What I really liked was the team's collective behaviour," Portugal head coach Santos told reporters afterwards.

"When I was asked what we had to do that was different from the game against Germany, I said it was to be like ourselves.

"We were strong, consistent, with a great spirit. We can continue to improve.

"In the second half we didn't start well but we regrouped."

 

Joao Palhinha was introduced at half-time in place of Danilo Pereira, who suffered a heavy blow to the head when Hugo Lloris fouled him for Ronaldo's first penalty.

Sporting CP midfielder Palhinha did his part in implementing Santos' game plan after Benzema dispatched Paul Pogba's magnificent throughball to ramp up the pressure on the reigning champions.

"The Germany game served as a lesson. The team improved a lot, defending more compactly, managing [the game] better with the ball, and that was reflected today," Palhinha told UEFA.com.

"The coach asked me to be more positional, to be more compact in the middle, and to not give space to the midfielders and [Antoine] Griezmann."

A daunting last-16 assignment awaits against Belgium in Seville on Sunday, with Roberto Martinez's side enjoying two days' extra rest after coasting to three group wins from three games.

"Now we have to think about Belgium, who are tough opponents. If we look at the rankings, they are first. But let's evaluate and realise what we have to do for this match," Santos added.

"Is not at a disadvantage [to have less recovery time. Rest is very important, we have to recover so that they are fresh. We cannot use this as a handicap.

"Let's see if there have been any changes in Belgium, let's analyse the team and prepare for the game with the usual goal: to move forwards."

The final round of group games at Euro 2020 did not disappoint, producing plenty of drama as the final spots in the last 16 were settled.

There were 18 goals scored across the four fixtures – the most on a single day in the history of the European Championships – with Spain putting five past Slovakia to get out of Group E alongside Sweden, who came out on top against Poland thanks to a late, late winner.

In Group F, Hungary threatened an upset but were twice pegged back by Germany in a 2-2 draw, while Portugal and France ended in the same scoreline thanks to record-breaker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Before the focus switches to the knockout stages, Stats Perform reflects on a dramatic conclusion to the round-robin stage.


Slovakia 0-5 Spain: Landmark win comes with a little help

Spain equalled the largest margin of victory in a game at the European Championship, becoming the fifth different side to win by five goals in the competition. The others? France and Denmark in 1984, the Netherlands in 2000 and Sweden in 2004).

It was also a milestone win, Spain's 50th at a major tournament. They are the fourth European nation to reach a half-century, joining Germany, Italy and France.

They were helped out by a Slovakia side that scored not one but two own goals, Martin Dubravka and Juraj Kucka the unfortunate duo to take the tally to eight in this year's tournament. The result means head coach Stefan Tarkovic has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since taking charge, with this his 12th game at the helm.

Ferran Torres grabbed the fourth goal of the contest with what was his first touch of the game. He scored just 44 seconds after coming on as a substitute – the quickest goal scored by a replacement at a European Championship since fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Valeron in 2004 (39 seconds versus Russia).

Sweden 3-2 Poland: Lewandowski at the double in defeat

Sweden continued their excellent form against Poland – they have won 10 of the past 12 meetings, including six in a row now – thanks in part to a fast start.

Emil Forsberg broke the deadlock after just 81 seconds, the second quickest goal scored from the start of a European Championship fixture. Dmitri Kirichenko holds the record for the fastest, doing so in a mere 65 seconds for Russia against Greece in 2004.

Poland rallied from 2-0 down to draw level thanks to Robert Lewandowski, who made sure he was on target in consecutive major tournament appearances for the first time in his career. He now has 69 goals for his country – the rest of his nation's squad at Euro 2020 have managed a combined total of 34.

However, the Bayern Munich forward will not be able to add to his tally at Euro 2020, with Poland exiting as their winless run was extended to six games. Viktor Claesson grabbed the winner in added time, meaning Sweden scored three in a game at the Euros for the first time since beating Bulgaria 5-0 in 2004.

 

Portugal 2-2 France: Benzema back on target as Ronaldo hits the spot

There were four goals, three penalties, two different scorers and one record broken in an eventful draw in Budapest.

Ronaldo converted both as Portugal became the first team to score two spot-kicks in a single European Championship fixture. The Juventus superstar's double makes him the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single Euros since Michel Platini (seven in 1984), who is the only individual to have managed more in a single group round.

Talisman Ronaldo also became the first European player in World Cup and European Championship history to score a combined 20 or more goals across the competitions. His tally sits at 21, while he has 109 in his Portugal career, putting him level with Ali Daei as the leading international men's scorer.

His former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema also grabbed a brace. His first of the game saw him score for France for the first time since October 8, 2015, five years and 258 days ago. It is the longest gap between goals for Les Bleus since current boss Didier Deschamps went seven years between finding the net.

France are now unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage outings at major tournaments, with their reward for topping the table being a last-16 clash with Switzerland.

Germany 2-2 Hungary: Goretzka earns Low a little more time

On a night with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride, Germany needed a late equaliser to make sure they progressed from the group stage for a seventh time in eight major international tournaments.

Joachim Low's reign appeared set for an unexpectedly early end when they trailed both 1-0 and 2-1 in Munich, with Adam Szalai's opener seeing Germany become one of only four sides to concede first in all three of their group outings, after Turkey, North Macedonia and Poland.

Kai Havertz equalised, in the process becoming the fourth-youngest player to score in back-to-back major tournament appearances for Germany, after Thomas Muller (2010), Franz Beckenbauer (1966) and Lukas Podolski (2006).

There was a first opportunity at Euro 2020 for teenager Jamal Musiala, who became the youngest player to make an appearance for the German national team at a major tournament, aged 18 years and 117 days.

Ali Daei congratulated Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo for equalling his long-standing record for international goals.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot to move onto 109 goals for defending champions Portugal as they secured passage to the knockout stages of Euro 2020 with a 2-2 draw against France on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Ronaldo now needs just one more goal to surpass Daei, who chalked up his remarkable tally for Iran between 1993 and 2006.

Daei was quick to mark the achievement on social media and predict that he will not jointly hold the record for long.

The 52-year-old wrote on Instagram: "Congratulations to @cristiano who is now one goal away from breaking the men’s international goalscoring record. 

"I am honoured that this remarkable achievement will belong to Ronaldo - great champion of football and caring humanist who inspires and impacts lives throughout the world.

"Vamos!"

Ronaldo's first opportunity to claim the outright lead will come when Portugal contest their last-16 tie on Sunday.

Having finished third behind France and Germany in Group F, Fernando Santos' side will take on Group B winners Belgium in Seville.

Cristiano Ronaldo equalled Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals as he scored two penalties in Portugal's 2-2 Euro 2020 draw with France.

The Portugal captain's fourth and fifth strikes of the tournament took him level with Iran great Daei, whose benchmark has stood since he retired in 2006.

Ronaldo's opener had taken him clear of Miroslav Klose for the most World Cup and European Championship goals combined, a tally that improved to 21 with his second spot-kick.

That equaliser was only enough to take defending European champions Portugal through in third place in Group F to meet Belgium in Seville in the last 16.

Ronaldo will get his opportunity to pass Daei on Sunday, although a tough path to the final awaits Portugal and their skipper even if they defeat the Red Devils.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo equalled Ali Daei's all-time international goalscoring record as he held his nerve to haul Portugal to a 2-2 draw with France and into the knockout rounds of Euro 2020.

Ronaldo scored the first of three penalties awarded by Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz at the Puskas Arena, although his old Real Madrid strike partner Karim Benzema levelled from the spot and put the world champions ahead at the start of the second half.

At that stage, the holders were staring at elimination as Les Blues eyed a measure of revenge for their Euro 2016 final defeat, but Ronaldo stepped up again at his country's hour of need when Jules Kounde was penalised for handball.

Having already overhauled Miroslav Klose – whose countrymen Germany flirted with disaster before salvaging a 2-2 draw against Hungary in Munich – to become the leading combined scorer at World Cups and European Championships combined, Ronaldo beat Hugo Lloris again to pull level with the mark set by Iran's Daei – one that has long been in the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's sights.

Paul Pobga unlocked the Portugal defence with a glorious 16th-minute throughball, although Kylian Mbappe's finish was not of the same standard and Rui Patricio saved.

Opposite number Hugo Lloris did not cover himself in glory when he rashly tried to punch Joao Moutinho's free-kick and clattered into Danilo Pereira. The France captain was cautioned and unable to atone as Ronaldo sent him the wrong way from the spot.

He was quickly followed into the book by Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez as Lahoz placed himself at the centre of the contest, and the official handed France a lifeline as he penalised Nelson Semedo for blocking off Mbappe and Benzema dispatched from 12 yards.

Another delicious Pogba pass completed a swift turnaround, as Benzema got away from Ruben Dias to coolly slot home two minutes into the second half.

Ronaldo almost found an instant response when he met Raphael Guerreiro's and he levelled with an hour played, Lahoz pointing to the spot once more when Kounde handled the Juventus star's delivery.

Pogba remained the game's outstanding player and Rui Patricio clawed out a stunning 25-yard effort from the Manchester United man before springing up to sharply deny Griezmann on the follow-up.

In stoppage time, Lahoz passed up the chance to give the fourth spot-kick of a fairly remarkable personal outing and a VAR check spared Bruno Fernandes for a clumsy challenge on fellow substitute Kingsley Coman.

What does it mean? France top 'group of death' as Portugal and Germany live to fight another day

The value of Benzema's brace was born out in France topping the group as the only undefeated team, earning a comparatively favourable tie against Switzerland in Bucharest. By contrast, Portugal travel to Seville to take on the world's number-one ranked side Belgium and Germany must face England at Wembley.

Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined with his penalty against France.

The Portugal star, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Hungary on matchday one and then once against Germany, is the first player in history to reach 20 goals across both competitions.

The 36-year-old overtook former Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who managed 19 goals over his career at the two tournaments.

Ronaldo this year became the first player to appear at five different European Championships, having made his tournament debut back in 2004.

He is the leading goalscorer at the event with 13, four more than previous record-holder Michel Platini, and he has made the most appearances at the Euros and World Cup (41).

Ronaldo's goal in Budapest also ended his barren run against France. He had never previously scored against Les Bleus in six appearances, making the world champions the international opponents he had faced most often without netting.

 

Italy legend Filippo Inzaghi has outlined the areas Kylian Mbappe must improve upon if he is to reach Cristiano Ronaldo's level.

Two of world football's biggest names go head to head on Wednesday evening when France face Portugal in the group stages of Euro 2020.

Les Bleus know their place in the knockout stages is already guaranteed but will be out to secure top spot in Group F and a kinder last-16 draw.

Portugal, meanwhile, are at risk of crashing out of the tournament unless they secure at least a point from their meeting with the world champions.

Mbappe and Ronaldo are likely to have a big say for their respective teams but Inzaghi believes one man might find it easier to influence proceedings thanks to his starting position.

"Being the main point of reference up front could be an advantage for Ronaldo, but he could be an easier target for defenders," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Mbappe can look for spaces and sometimes he can hide."

Mbappe is often hailed as a potential successor to Ronaldo - or indeed Lionel Messi, dependent on taste - as the world's best player.

But Inzaghi feels the Frenchman, who has scored 78 goals in 80 Ligue 1 appearances over the last three seasons, is capable of showing a greater killer instinct in the box.

"Ronaldo was unique in the central part of his career at Real Madrid," he added.

"Now Mbappe is in Paris, then we'll see. For now, he doesn't seem attracted by goals as Cristiano is.

"Mbappe's dribbling in tight spaces and his change of pace are stunning. It really looks like he has gears in his legs.

"Even more, it looks easy for him to make the difference, even in one metre. He can be devastating, whether he has space or not.

"However, Cristiano's heading and ability to lose his marker are unreachable, and he is so accurate whether he shoots with his right or left foot. 

"This is something Mbappe still needs to improve."

A record-breaking defeat to Germany on matchday two leaves Portugal with work to do against France in a repeat of the previous European Championship final.

Portugal became the first defending champions to concede four goals at the Euros and now need at least a point to reach the last 16.

Top spot in Group F could still be theirs if they beat France, although Portugal's Euro 2016 final triumph was their only win against Les Bleus in 13 attempts.

Reflecting on the Germany match ahead of this tough test, coach Fernando Santos said: "We all felt disappointed on our way back.

"Everyone feels a sense of responsibility, and the following day the players reacted well.

"They are experienced players and appreciate that sometimes you don't win. There are times when even the top teams don't deal well with defeat."

France have never previously played Portugal before the semi-final stage of a major tournament, but their meetings tend to be low scoring. The previous four have provided only three goals.

Although Didier Deschamps' men are already through as at least one of the four best third-placed sides, the coach insists they do not lack motivation.

"To be honest, in the situation where we are now, if we had six points I would have the same thoughts because a negative result would have the same impact," he said.

"We have the insurance of being qualified already, that gives us some kind of tranquillity but it won't change our playing style.

"Of course we owe it to ourselves and the French people to deliver the best possible result."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo

When is Ronaldo not Portugal's player to watch? He has history in his sights, too, having tied Miroslav Klose as the leading scorer at Euros and World Cups combined (19 goals) and moved within three of Ali Daei's world-record 109-goal tally last time out. The Juventus superstar has never scored against France, though, his six goalless appearances his worst record in international football.

France – Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann was the subject of praise from Santos ahead of this match and is himself only three goals adrift of a benchmark for France. He has 11 goals at major international tournaments, with Michel Platini's 14 leading the way. He has Thierry Henry (12) and Just Fontaine (13) to leapfrog before reaching that record, though.
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

– This is the fifth match between Portugal and France at a major tournament, but it is the first time they have met in the group stages; all four previous encounters took place in the semis (Euro 1984, Euro 2000, World Cup 2006) or final (Euro 2016). France won the first three while Portugal came out victors in the Euro 2016 showpiece match.
– Following their 1-1 draw with Hungary on MD2, France have avoided defeat in more matches when trailing at half-time than any other team in European Championship history (six – W4 D2).
– France are unbeaten in each of their past 11 group stage games at major international tournaments (World Cup and Euros), winning seven and drawing four. However, each of their past three MD3 group games in these tournaments have ended level (D3).
– Last time out versus Germany (4-2), Portugal became the first reigning champions in European Championship history to concede four goals in a single match in the competition. Indeed, Portugal had never conceded four goals in a single European Championship match before facing Germany on MD2.
– Portugal have lost two of their past three matches at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), one more than they had lost in the previous 17 such games combined (W8 D8 L1). They last lost consecutive such matches within a single tournament at Euro 2008.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a "source of inspiration for everyone", according to France forward Antoine Griezmann.

France face Ronaldo's Portugal in their final Group F game at Euro 2020, in what is a repeat of the Euro 2016 final.

Despite Ronaldo succumbing to injury on that night in Paris, Portugal went on to clinch the trophy with a 1-0, extra-time victory.

Both teams played on Saturday but fell short of the results they wanted. France could only draw 1-1 with Hungary in Budapest, while Portugal were beaten 4-2 by Germany.

Ronaldo put Fernando Santos' side ahead in Munich, taking his tally to the tournament to three goals in two games, while he is now on 107 international goals, two shy of matching the record set by Iran great Ali Daei.

Ronaldo has now scored 19 goals at World Cups and Euros – no European player has ever netted more across the two competitions, with only Miroslav Klose scoring as many.

The 36-year-old has also scored in 14 different major competition matches, the joint-most of any European player, alongside Germany greats Klose and Jurgen Klinsmann, though Ronaldo has never found the net against France, failing to score against them in 439 minutes of action across six games.

Saturday's results leave Group F firmly in the balance, with France needing to beat Portugal to guarantee top spot, while defeat could well see them finish third.

Regardless of what is riding on Wednesday's clash, Griezmann lauded Ronaldo – as well as his Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi – as an inspirational force.

"[He is] a source of inspiration for everyone," Griezmann told a news conference.

"It is extraordinary what he is doing at 36 years old. He and Messi, there will be no one like them, we are lucky to meet them on the field.

"He is a complete player, an example for all young and old, he can show the way for many young people."

Griezmann got France's equaliser against Hungary, levelling from close range to score his 11th major tournament goal.

Only Michel Platini (14), Just Fontaine (13) and Thierry Henry (10) have more for France, while only Henry and Platini have scored in more matches at World Cups or Euros than Griezmann, who will draw level with the duo should he score again at Euro 2020.

Asked if he is eyeing up Platini's record, Griezmann replied: "We are talking about a legend. That is not my main objective.

"I would rather win without scoring rather than draw by scoring. I prefer to help the team. If we score, so much the better for everybody."

One player who thrived for France in their win over Germany, but failed to replicate the performance against Hungary, was Paul Pogba, but Griezmann insisted the midfielder's display cannot be too harshly judged.

"We are not going to question a player when he was a little less good compared to the last match. It was very hot. Even I was tired," Griezmann said.

"That's how it is. He will have another match against Portugal to prove that he can go on and keep that level against Germany in every game."

As for Pogba himself, the Manchester United man believes the result in Budapest presents a wake-up call for tournament favourites Les Bleus.

"You should never compare matches against Germany or Hungary," Pogba told Telefoot.

"We are still a little disappointed because we wanted to win and qualify [for the last 16]. Now there is still one game left. It's not a slap, but a little pat on the face to say, 'guys, we know what's in store for us.'"

A host of European football's heavyweights were in action on another day of high drama at Euro 2020 on Saturday.

The stand-out result was Germany's thumping 4-2 win over holders Portugal at the Allianz Arena in Munich, which featured yet another landmark strike from Cristiano Ronaldo. 

In the same group, tournament favourites France were held to a surprise draw by Hungary, while, in Group E, Spain's stuttering start continued with a 1-1 draw against Poland.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from across the day's action.

Portugal 2-4 Germany: Holders give Die Mannschaft a helping hand

Portugal made some unwanted history as they slipped to a resounding defeat against Germany at the Allianz Arena.

It had started so well for Fernando Santos' men, Ronaldo putting the holders ahead early on with a strike that took him level with Miroslav Klose as the European player to have scored the most combined goals (19) across the World Cup and European Championship. 

However, Portugal became the first European nation ever to concede two own goals – through Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro – in a single match at a major tournament to give Germany a half-time lead. 

Kai Havertz added a third to become Germany's youngest goalscorer in a European Championship game, aged 22 years and eight days, before Robin Gosens got in on the act. 

That meant Portugal, who pulled one back through Diogo Jota, became the first reigning champions in European Championship history to concede four goals in a single match in the competition.

Hungary 1-1 France: Fiola finds a way through stubborn defence

Few gave Hungary a chance of getting anything from their clash with the world champions, but Marco Rossi's side claimed a memorable point.

Attila Fiola opened the scoring shortly before half-time, ending a run of 527 minutes of play for France without shipping a goal.

Fiola has now scored two goals in his last four appearances for Hungary after failing to find the back of the net in his first 33 games for his country. 

Aged 31 years and 122 days, right-back Fiola is the oldest player to score against France in a European Championship match since Rui Jordao scored a brace against them for Portugal in 1984 (31y 319d).

However, France stretched their unbeaten run at major tournaments to nine matches when Antoine Griezmann levelled midway through the second half. 

The Barcelona forward has now scored 11 goals at major international tournaments, with only Michel Platini (14), Just Fontaine (13) and Thierry Henry (12) having scored more. 

France could have sealed victory had Kylian Mbappe shown more accuracy in front of goal. The Paris Saint-Germain forward attempted six shots – the most he has ever had in a single match for his country. 

Spain 1-1 Poland: La Roja's sluggish start continues

This draw meant Spain have failed to win either of their first two games in a European Championship tournament for the first time since 1996. 

It had started so well for them, however, with Alvaro Morata firing home from close range in the 25th minute. The on-loan Juventus striker has scored four of Spain's last five goals at European Championship finals – only Fernando Torres (five) has ever scored more goals in the competition for the nation.

Poland pulled level shortly after half-time, though, Robert Lewandowski becoming only the third player to score in three major tournaments for Poland, after Grzegorz Lato and Andrzej Szarmach.

Spain did have the opportunity to claim all three points, but Gerard Moreno struck the post from the penalty spot, meaning they have failed to score five of their last eight penalties (excluding shootouts) at the tournament.

There was also a landmark moment for Poland's Kacper Kozlowski (17 years and 246 days), who became the youngest ever player to make an appearance at the European Championship, overtaking Jude Bellingham's record (17y 349d) set for England six days ago.

Germany benefited from two own goals as they came from behind to seal a thumping 4-2 win over Portugal in Euro 2020 Group F on Saturday. 

Cristiano Ronaldo had put holders Portugal ahead early on with a strike that took him level with Miroslav Klose as the European player to have scored the most combined goals (19) across the World Cup and European Championship. 

Joachim Low's side stormed back before half-time, however, courtesy of two own goals in the space of four minutes from Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro. 

The 2014 world champions wrapped up an emphatic first victory of the tournament in the second half thanks to strikes from Kai Havertz and the impressive Robin Gosens, with Diogo Jota pulling one back for Fernando Santos' men.  

Left-back Gosens thought he had handed Germany a fifth-minute lead but his acrobatic effort at the back post was ruled out for offside against Serge Gnabry.

Despite Germany's dominant start it was Portugal who struck first, Ronaldo tapping home from close range in the 15th minute following a flowing counter-attacking move involving Bernardo Silva and Jota. 

Germany pulled level 10 minutes before half-time, though, when Dias diverted Gosens' mis-hit volley past Rui Patricio from just outside the six-yard box. 

Things got even better for Joachim Low's side four minutes later when Guerreiro turned into his own net from close range after Joshua Kimmich had pulled the ball back across the face of goal.

They extended their lead further six minutes after the interval, Havertz turning in Gosens' cross from close range. 

Gosens then added his name to the scoresheet on the hour mark, leaping highest at the back post to head home Kimmich's cross from the right. 

Liverpool striker Jota gave Portugal hope of pulling off a memorable comeback when he fired home from Ronaldo's pull-back in the 67th minute, but Germany held on to inflict just a third defeat in their last 31 matches for Portugal. who hit the post late on through Renato Sanches.

When Cristiano Ronaldo limped out of the Euro 2016 final, Portugal had to bide their time and turn towards an unlikely hero.

Eder, a flop in the Premier League with Swansea City who had been sent out on loan to Lille, enjoyed the most memorable moment of his time in France – and, indeed, his career – when he drove home a brilliant winner to down the hosts 1-0 in extra time at the Stade de France.

It felt like an entirely fitting way for Fernando Santos' team to win a tournament they slogged their way through.

Quickfire goals from Ronaldo and Nani early in the second half of a 2-0 semi-final win over Wales accounted for Portugal's only victory inside 90 minutes.

There were three draws during the group stage, including a 0-0 scoreline remaining intact when their talisman missed a penalty against Austria. The last-16 encounter with Croatia also reached full-time goalless before Ricardo Quaresma struck during the additional period.  

 

Quaresma and Nani provided dutiful support as their careers at the top level ticked down, but the cupboard was fairly bare for Santos once injury struck during the first half in Paris and Ronaldo was reduced to barking encouragement and instructions from the touchline.

Should a similar fate befall Portugal's all-time leading scorer this time around, the replacement goal threat would not be so obscure.

In Andre Silva, there is a natural stand-in at centre-forward, buoyed by 28 goals in 32 Bundesliga outings for Eintracht Frankfurt this season.

The burden could also be shouldered by Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes, an ideal candidate for penalty duties, while Diogo Jota's threat would remain.

Let's not forget that Bernardo Silva played a decent amount of Manchester City's triumphant Premier League title campaign and run to the Champions League final as a false nine, while Joao Felix remains an outstanding talent despite not yet justifying his €126million transfer fee to Atletico Madrid.

None of that quintet were involved at Euro 2016.

 

In short, Santos now has a squad overflowing with attacking firepower, having masterminded a route to glory when such options were far more scarce – save for one ludicrously prolific exception – five years ago.

However, as they prepare to face Germany, they remain a target for some of the criticism that came France's way after their opening 1-0 win in Munich.

Like Didier Deschamps, Santos has been accused of lacking imagination, providing a solid base for his attacking creatives and not much else.

"We are different from France. Let's see what Germany does and we'll try to control Germany too. One thing's for certain, we have to have a ball," Santos told reporters on Friday, insisting his team would look to take the initiative.

"We are not going to defend man to man. We're going to maintain our defensive pattern to be able to have the ball, as we did against Hungary, whom we forced to run."

 

The Hungary game was goalless until the 84th minute, as Ronaldo bagged a brace and superior quality – along with all that enforced running – eventually told in a 3-0 win.

But, with two heavyweight encounters to come before the end of the group stage, the question remains over whether Santos can make his team of winners a team people love to see win.

In the period from the end of the Euro 2012 up until their trudging triumph in 2016, per game Portugal averaged 1.6 goals form 17.2 shots and 5.9 on target at a shot conversion rate of 9.5 per cent.

Since Euro 2016, all of those numbers are up. They average 2.3 goals per game, 18.1 shots and 6.6 on target, converting 12.7 per cent. Their passing accuracy has improved from 83.2 per cent to 86 per cent, while an average of 172.9 passes ending in the final third in every match – up from 145.7 – also suggests a more progressive approach.

Far from waiting around for things to happen, Portugal imposed themselves against Hungary and a partisan Budapest crowd, enjoying 70 per cent possession and making 19 high turnovers – ranking them third overall in the tournament for teams winning the ball back 40 metres from the opposition goal, despite being one of sixes sides to have only played once so far.

 

For context, Santos' men made 27 high turnovers over the course of their six matches in France five years ago.

Ronaldo is reaping the benefit of this increased output of the attacking unit around him. Six of his nine international hat-tricks have come since lifting the European Championship.

If Portugal and the affable curmudgeon Santos are to mimic their neighbours Spain, who went back-to-back in 2008 and 2012, they might just capture hearts and minds along with winners' medals this time around.

Joachim Low wants Germany to show Cristiano Ronaldo they have the kind of bottle that he and Portugal cannot handle in Saturday's crunch Euro 2020 clash.

Head coach Low has told his team to "take more risks" and be brave as Germany bid to bounce back from their opening 1-0 defeat to France in Group F.

The Munich tussle follows several days when Ronaldo has faced scrutiny for moving two Coca-Cola bottles that were positioned on a news conference stage, and appearing to declare he preferred water to the tournament sponsor's product.

"Cristiano can do more than put away Coca-Cola bottles, he has more qualities," said Low on Friday evening, as he faced questions on how Germany would handle the Portuguese superstar.

That quip came amid a full assessment of Portugal's threat, but Low was more eager to talk about his own team's potential, feeling they have more to give than they showed against France.

He said that result left an "unfortunate and bitter" feeling, and added: "It's no secret we didn't create enough."

Low, who will step down after this tournament, hopes to see "more attacking power", saying Germany "need to be more intense, more effective".

"I think every player understood in attack we need to react in a different way. If we are in the final third, we need to stay there. [Against France] we always played backwards going out of the final third," Low said.

"We tried to be secure, not intense enough, but we need this dynamic in attack, especially in the final third.

"We need to take more risks, occupy spaces better, not go out of these spaces, and be more effective. We missed a number of occasions and options to do better [in the France game] and I'm sure we will do better tomorrow."

Portugal began with a 3-0 win over Hungary, though they were flattered by that margin, with the match having been goalless going into the final 10 minutes.

Ronaldo scored twice, his first a penalty, after Raphael Guerreiro broke the deadlock.

"It's not a one-man show, that's clear," Low said of Portugal.

"Portugal have been at the top since four to five years. With winning the Euro title [in 2016] they grew together, they're a great team.

"Is it a one-man show? It was before... Cristiano Ronaldo the superstar of the Portuguese team, he was 'the man', but this has changed. They have more players of top quality: [Bernardo] Silva, [Bruno] Fernandes, Joao Felix, Jota and many more and they are involved in attack as much as Cristiano is."

Germany would be in great danger of elimination should they lose, and going out in the group stage of his final tournament would hardly be a fitting way to sign off for World Cup winner Low.

"With the pressure we can deal with it, the players can deal with it," Low said. "We need a positive result and we want to show a good performance, but the pressure won't hinder us."

Portugal's last victory against Germany was in the group stages of Euro 2000 – a 3-0 win, courtesy of a Sergio Conceicao hat-trick.

Since then, Germany have won their four meetings with Portugal, all at major tournaments (the World Cups in 2006 and 2014 and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships).

But Low said: "All that's important is tomorrow night, 90 minutes against Portugal, and not what our history is against Portugal or France. This doesn't help if you know about that."

Cristiano Ronaldo must break new ground when Portugal face Germany at Euro 2020 if his quest for a new world record for international goals is to continue.

The Juventus star struck twice late on to help his side to a 3-0 victory over Hungary in their opening Group F match and become the leading scorer in European Championship finals history with 11 in 22 appearances.

Ronaldo is one goal short of matching Miroslav Klose (19) for the most goals by a European player at the Euros and World Cup combined, while an altogether grander record is now within his sights: he is only three adrift of Iran great Ali Daei's tally of 109, the most scored by any international men's player.

However, history is for once not on Ronaldo's side when it comes to facing Germany, who lost 1-0 to France in their opening match in Munich.

He has played four times against them – 360 minutes in total – and attempted 23 shots in those matches, but Ronaldo has never scored against Joachim Low's men. Only against France (six) has he played more international games without finding the net.

Former striker Nuno Gomes does not appear worried that Ronaldo's barren run will continue at the Allianz Arena, where a Portugal win would secure their place in the knockout phase and could leave Germany unable to finish in the top two should France avoid defeat to Hungary.

"Cristiano already has us believing that, for him, nothing is impossible," Gomes wrote via UEFA. "He is highly motivated and we can expect him to give his all.

"He may have lost some pace and explosiveness but has gained a flair for different kinds of goals. His positioning is very important and he's been in the right place at the right time, something that is important for a striker. It's hard to find the words to describe what he has done."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portugal – Bruno Fernandes

Germany controlled possession well against France but looked susceptible to almost every counter-attack with the pace of Kylian Mbappe and passing of Paul Pogba.

Bruno Fernandes, who created a game-high three chances against Hungary, is Manchester United's architect when it comes to releasing forwards on the break and could be the main threat to the German defence if the holders do indeed adopt a counter-punching style.

Germany – Joshua Kimmich

The loss to France highlighted the main concerns around Low's 3-4-3 system: while it gives Germany greater nominal control on the game, it moves Kimmich away from an influential midfield role to that of a wing-back reliant on optimistic crosses (he attempted seven in the opening game).

Should Low return to a 4-3-3, it would allow Kimmich to move back into a central trio alongside Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan and bring an extra creative dimension to the middle.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the fifth meeting between Portugal and Germany at the European Championship; only Italy and Spain have faced each other on more occasions in the tournament (six). It will also be the sixth encounter between the two teams at major tournaments since Euro 2000 (four at the Euros, two at the World Cup), the most between two European nations over that period.
- The past five matches between Portugal and Germany have produced 17 goals, an average of 3.4 per match. Four of those five games have witnessed three or more goals.
- Portugal have lost just two of their past 30 matches in all competitions (W19 D9), scoring 67 goals and conceding just 19 times across these games. Having won 4-0 against Israel and 3-0 against Hungary in their previous two matches, they are looking to win three games in a row without conceding for the first time since November 2017 (four in a row).
- Germany have suffered three defeats in their past four group matches at major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), as many as in their previous 24 group stage games (W16 D5). They have not suffered consecutive defeats in the group stage at a major tournament since losing to England and Portugal at Euro 2000.
- Germany midfielder Toni Kroos completed exactly 100 passes against France. In the past three tournaments (Euro 2016, World Cup 2018, Euro 2020), there have been six instances of a Germany player completing 100 or more passes in a game and all six have been by Kroos.

Cristiano Ronaldo thanked his Portugal team-mates for helping him to surpass Michel Platini as the European Championship's outright all-time record goalscorer with his double against Hungary.

The 36-year-old scored a penalty late on in Tuesday's Group F clash to move one in front of Platini – who netted all nine of his goals in the 1984 edition – at the top of the competition's scoring charts.

He added to his tally in added time as Portugal, who opened the scoring through Raphael Guerreiro's 84th-minute strike in Budapest, became the first team in the history of the Euros to score three goals in the final 10 minutes of a game.

Ronaldo is also the first man to play and score in five separate European Championships and now has an even greater record in sight, the Juventus forward just three shy of Ali Daei's world record of 109 international goals.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner will have an opportunity to close in on Daei's impressive tally when Portugal take on Germany in Munich in their next group outing on Saturday.

Speaking after Portugal's late win against Hungary in front of around 61,000 spectators – the most at any game at this year's tournament – Ronaldo said: "It was important to win. It was a difficult game. 

"Hungary defended very well for 90 minutes. We managed to score three goals and I am very grateful to the team for helping me to score twice and collect the man of the match award. 

"It was essential to go in with the right foot to give confidence. Now we have to just keep going, keep going. We will look to win the next game."

 

It looked like being a day of frustration for reigning European champions Portugal before a late flurry of goals gave them their joint-record margin of victory at the Euros, alongside 3-0 wins against Croatia in 1996 and Germany in 2000.

Head coach Fernando Santos was pleased with the way his side adapted to overcome their stubborn opponents as Portugal won their first game at a major tournament for the first time in six attempts.

"They kept putting two or three players on top of Cristiano," he told SIC Noticias. "Our strategy was not to cross, cross, cross. We had to look for different paths and we scored a goal, then Hungary started opening up some space.

"If we had scored earlier it might have been easier for us. We had chances to score but didn't, which caused a small period of anxiety, though we recovered well in the end by scoring the goals.

"It was a case of making Ronaldo more open because Guerreiro was getting stuck. Now we have two important games to come and we will try our best to get through this stage."

Hungary came within six minutes of taking a point off Portugal, but they are now winless in their past four games at the European Championship and have matches against France and Germany to come in an extremely tough group.

"I'm disappointed with the result," Hungary coach Marco Rossi said at his post-match news conference. "There wasn't much difference between the two teams. We didn't have luck today. 

"But we have to show that we're men. We are representing Hungary and we have two more equally difficult games ahead of us.

"We were happy with the game until the 83rd minute, but then the three goals came. Maybe it was my fault for taking too much risk. I'm not sad about the performance, but disappointed with the result."

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