Ricardo Quaresma was the hero for Portugal on Saturday night as he headed in the winner three minutes before the end of extra-time to break Croatia and book his side a spot in the last eight of Euro 2016.
Cristiano Ronaldo, chasing France legend Michel Platini’s record of nine goals in European championship finals, was denied by a fine save from Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, but the ball fell to Quaresma to head into an empty net.
It was a generally dull encounter in Lens and the first match in European Championship history where neither team managed a shot on target during the regulation 90 minutes.
However, Portugal goalie Rui Patricio made himself a hero in extra-time when he turned Ivan Perisic’s header onto the post, before his side snatched victory at the death as Subasic’s reflex save to keep out Ronaldo fell to Quaresma who nodded the ball into the gaping net.
Portugal will face Poland in the quarterfinals in Marseille on Thursday after the Poles beat Switzerland 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw earlier on Saturday.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s spectacular bicycle kick had cancelled out Jakob Blaszczykowski’s opener for Poland and with the scores tied at 1-1 after extra time, the clash at Saint-Etienne’s Stade Geoffrey Guichard went into penalties.
The Poles nailed all five kicks while Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, blasted his spot-kick wide.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Gareth McAuley scored a wrecking own goal to hand Wales a 1-0 victory in the “Battle of Britain” and a place in the Euro 2016 quarterfinals.
In a tight contest with little chances, Michael O’Neill’s side did well to cage Gareth Bale, but the Real Madrid star produced a deadly 75th-minute cross that the hapless McAuley turned into his own net.
It was Wales’ first last-eight appearance in a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, and they will play either Belgium or Hungary for a place in the semis.