Portugal vs Czechia 2-1: Conceicao Late Strike Saves the Selecao

Portugal’s secret weapon turned out to be 21-year-old Francisco Conceicao as Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Leao fired blanks in the Selecao’s debut at Euro 2024. The Lusitanians came from behind to snatch a late win over Czechia thanks to a strike from the son of former Serie A player Sergio.

The stellar partnership between CR7 and Leao spearheading Roberto Martinez’s front line promised a spectacular show in Leipzig. But while the eternal Cristiano did his part once again at 39 years of age and put his stamp on one goal disallowed by the VAR, the Milan starlet was wasteful and inconsistent – as it often happens to him.

And so, Portugal risked much as a gritty Czech side took the lead on 62 minutes from their very first shot on target, a brilliant Lukas Provod conclusion from outside the box that left no chance to Diogo Costa. It was a wake up call for the Portuguese, who had spent most of the game loafing around and accumulating ball possession.

Their equalizer came from an own goal as goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek ended up making the ball bounce right into his defender Robin Hranac and then into the back of the net in an attempt to neutralize a Joao Vitinha header.   

Nobody had any doubts about Portugal deserving at least one point as Martinez’s side had been in control for most of the match. Early in the game, CR7 was picked in the middle of the box by Bruno Fernandes with a clinical pass through, but Stanek was quick enough to palm away the Portuguese star’s conversion attempt.

Ronaldo also came close to scoring on 87 minutes as he headed the ball into the post from a right side cross. Diogo Jota was ready for the tap in to earn Portugal their winner, but his effort was frustrated by the VAR, which caught CR7 offside by just an inch. 

It was just a matter of a few minutes, though, before Roberto Martinez’s side would put their heads ahead for once. Credit must be given to the former Belgium coach who got all his changes right, especially as he was brave enough to put 21-year-old Conceicao in for the final assault. 

The figlio d’arte promptly repaid the trust, finding himself in the right place at the right time to slot the ball home from point blank range. He took advantage of a clumsy clearance attempt from Hranac, which only resulted in giftwrapping Conceicao the chance for an easy conversion. It was just a night to forget for the Viktoria Plzen defender.  

Despite their initial wastefulness, Portugal confirmed to be one of the teams with the biggest potential at Euro 2024, having the right blend of young and experienced players. On that note, 41-year-old Pepe deserves a mention of honor as tonight’s appearance made him the oldest player to have ever featured in a European Championship match. 



June 18, 2024 – Euro 2024 Group F

SCORERS: 62′ Provod (C), 69′ Hranac (C, o.g.), 92′ Francisco Conceicao (P)

PORTUGAL (3-5-2): Diogo Costa; Diogo Dalot (63′ Goncalo Inacio), Pepe, Ruben Dias; Cancelo (90′ Semedo), Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Vitinha (90′ Francisco Conceicao), Nuno Mendes (90′ Pedro Neto); Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Leao (63′ Diogo Jota) (Rui Patricio, José Sa, Palhinha, Goncalo Ramos, Joao Felix, Danilo Pereira, Joao Neves, Matheus Nunes, Ruben Neves, Antonio Silva)  Coach: Martinez
CZECHIA (3-5-2): Stanek; Holes (93′ Chory), Hranac, Krejci; Coufal, Soucek, Sulc (79′ Sevcik), Provod (79′ Barak), Doudera; Kuchta (60′ Lingr), Schick (61′ Chytil) (Kovar, Jaros, Zima, Vitik, Hlozek, D. Jurasek, Cerny, Cerv, Vlcek, M. Jurasek) Coach: Hasek

REFEREE: Mr. Guida (Italy)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Rafael Leao (P), Schick (C); Added Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 4′