Ronaldo puts spark into Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo produced a classic diving header with little more than 10 minutes remaining.

Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo. Picture: AFP

GDANSK - Cristiano Ronaldo stooped to conquer the Czech Republic and send Portugal deservedly into the semi-finals of the European Championship on Thursday as the tournament re-started after a temporary lull in proceedings.

The world's most expensive player produced a classic diving header with little more than 10 minutes remaining in Warsaw to break the deadlock, notching his third goal of the competition.

Portugal spent most of the game on the attack against an unambitious Czech side with Ronaldo striking the woodwork either side of halftime before sealing victory and a meeting with either neighbours Spain or France in the semi-finals.

The start of the business end of the tournament was a welcome tonic for the championship after the fall-out from the exit of co-hosts Poland and Ukraine in the group stages.

German fans were massing on Poland's Baltic coast in Gdansk ahead of Friday's quarter-final against Greece while holders Spain face France on Saturday in Donetsk before Sunday's final last-eight tie between England and Italy in Kiev.

Ronaldo's performances in Portugal's opening two games, a defeat by Germany and a narrow win over Denmark, were disappointing for a player who scored 46 league goals for Real Madrid last season.

However, he woke up to score twice against the Netherlands to secure a quarter-final spot for his team and produced an inspirational display against the Czechs, culminating in his sweet connection with Joao Moutinho's cross.

"It was a fantastic game for Portugal," Ronaldo said.