Euro 2024: Portugal throttles Turkey as fans flock to Ronaldo for selfies

DORTMUND, Germany — By the end, it was hard to know what Cristiano Ronaldo was more unhappy about.

Failing to score for the second straight game at the European Championship or having to fend off repeated attempts for selfies by his adoring fans.

In what proved to be a wild match for the five-time world player of the year, Ronaldo had no goals, one assist and no less than four selfie-pursuing field invaders for company in Portugal’s chaotic 3-0 win over Turkey that secured a spot in Euro 2024’s round of 16 on Saturday.

Ronaldo, one of the world’s most popular and well-known sport stars, was the center of attention as always at Westfalenstadion. Just not how he might have expected.

“That’s the price you pay for being so recognized in the world of football,” said Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo’s Portugal teammate.

Ronaldo did get his first goal involvement of the tournament when he set up the third by Bruno Fernandes with an unselfish pass. He could easily have attempted a shot after being played clean through.

“It was a pure moment of Portuguese football,” Portugal coach Roberto Martinez said in praise of Ronaldo, his captain. “It should be shown in every academy in world football.”

Then things got a bit silly — and potentially unsafe — for the former Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus striker.

Ronaldo was fine posing for a photograph with a young boy who evaded stewards to get on the field in the 69th minute before whipping out his cell phone. That fan sprinted off before being stopped and escorted away — but not before he waved to the crowd.

However, Ronaldo certainly wasn’t amused when two other fans with phones at the ready tried the same trick in the final few minutes of the game. He threw his arms up in disgust the first time and appeared to actively try to avoid the next one as he defended a corner.

After the final whistle, there were more security breaches as a fan wearing a Portugal jersey attempted to get close to Ronaldo while holding a phone. He was soon tackled to the ground before two more supporters were stopped from confronting Ronaldo as Portugal’s players walked off the field.

“It is a concern,” Martinez said. “Today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good. “If those intentions are wrong, the players are exposed. I don’t think that should happen on a football pitch.”

Ronaldo missed out on a chance to score a record-extending 15th European Championship goal against a Turkey team that was its own worst enemy at times.

Not least in the 28th minute when, trailing 1-0 to Bernardo Silva’s strike seven minutes earlier, Turkey center back Samet Akaydin delivered a back-pass that rolled to the side of his goalkeeper and straight into the net.

Portugal backed up its opening 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic and has qualified with a match to spare from Group F.

Georgia 1, Czech Republic 1

Georgia earned its first point at a major tournament after drawing with the Czech Republic in what was nearly a win.

Midfielder Saba Lobjanidze fired his shot narrowly over the bar with the last kick of the game as Georgia’s promising three-on-one counterattack came to nothing.

Lobjanidze — who plays for Atlanta United in the U.S. state of Georgia — seemed to be in tears after the final whistle and was comforted by coach Willy Sagnol.

“As I tried to tell him, the ones who never tried, they will never miss. And the best way to miss is to try,” Sagnol said.

“Some mixed feelings after the match in the locker room. For the first minutes I think the players were a bit disappointed because of this massive opportunity but I hope they will quickly get the fact that they got their first ever point in a major tournament.”

There was a big mismatch in experience, with the Czech team playing in its eighth consecutive European Championship and Georgia, which was once part of the Soviet Union, making its debut as an independent nation.

Earlier, video reviews were in the spotlight.

The Czechs dominated the opening stages and celebrated the opening goal in the 23rd minute when Adam Hlozek bundled the ball into the net at the far post off a long throw.

Replays, however, showed Hlozek’s shot bounced back off goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili and in off the Czech forward’s face and arm.

The situation was reversed when Georgia defender Guram Kashia shot straight at the goalkeeper just before halftime. Georgia fans rued the missed chance but celebrated when a video review found the ball came off Czech defender Robin Hranac’s arm a couple of seconds earlier.

Georgia, the only team making its debut at Euro 2024, then took the lead with a Georges Mikautadze penalty given for handball by Czech defender Robin Hranec.

The Czechs got back into the game when a header rebounded off the post and Patrik Schick scored with his chest for his sixth career goal at the European Championships, ranking him joint sixth on the all-time list.

Schick limped off soon after and applied ice to his calf, potentially a major concern for the Czech Republic given the Bayer Leverkusen striker’s importance to the team and his long record of previous injuries. “It’s no good,” Schick told Czech public TV about the injury.

VAR didn’t intervene later when the Czechs appealed for players being pushed by Georgia defenders in the penalty area, perhaps because the contact on both occasions was relatively slight.

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The draw means both teams have one point and almost certainly require a win in their last group games to qualify for the knockout stages. Turkey and Portugal are the other teams in Group F. They play later Saturday.

For now, though, Georgia is celebrating a milestone in its soccer history, even as the country is divided politically at home.

“I think the whole country will celebrate that,” Sagnol said, “in a very special Georgian way.”

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