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Ronaldo powers Portugal into Euro 2016 final

Portugal celebrates with team mates during the UEFA Euro 2016 Semi Final match between Portugal and Wales played at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France on July 6, 2016. [Photo/IC]

LYON – Cristiano Ronaldo scored one and assisted another to lead Portugal to a 2-0 win over Wales in the semifinals of the European Championship here on Wednesday.

Portugal, losing their only previous final to Greece in 2004, will fight for the title against the winner of the other match between hosts France and world champions Germany, which will be held in Marseille on Thursday.

An excited Portugal coach Fernando Santos said after the match, “I feel very happy. Happy for the players, for every single Portuguese. For the many Greeks who supported me throughout, especially in the knockout stages.

“My first game at the helm of the team was two years ago, and our goal was to reach here. Thankfully everything worked out for us. We are stronger, more solid, more united.”

Wales manager Chris Coleman said the team could leave France with head held high.

“The nation’s proud of the players,” he said. “I’m proud of the players and when they look back in a few days they’ll feel very proud of themselves. We’re going to go into the next campaign with a lot of hunger. I’m more proud of this team than any other team I’ve worked with. I imagine the players will get a huge welcome back when they return to Cardiff, and they deserve that.”

After a dull first half in which neither side created clear-cut chances, Portugal pulled ahead in the 50th minute through Ronaldo’s stunning header.

The Real Madrid forward jumped high and hung in the air above Wales defender James Chester to bullet a Raphael Guerreiro cross into the roof of the net.

It was his ninth goal in four European Championships and helped him equal Michel Platini’s record.

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