Cristiano Ronaldo steals headlines from man-of-the-match Adrien
A controlled and dominant display by Portugal on Wednesday resulted in a 2-0 victory over Wales to book a place in the Euro 2016 final on Sunday in Paris. Portugal will face the winner of Thursday's semifinal between hosts France and reigning World Cup champions Germany.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani scored goals any centre-forward would be proud of, further justifying coach Fernando Santos' decision to play the two wingers as strikers in this tournament. Each has notched three goals in Portugal's six matches so far.
Ronaldo, the captain who scored and provided the assist for Nani's goal, will inevitably hog the headlines, but midfield dynamo Adrien did the most to make Portugal tick Wednesday, with a forceful and skilful display in the centre of the pitch.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK, Rui Patricio, 7/10 -- Did not have a whole lot to do, but did his job when called upon, especially when diving to repel a wicked swerving shot from Gareth Bale in the 80th minute that could have put Wales back into the match.
DF, Cedric Soares, 8/10 -- After watching Vieirinha play the group matches, Soares has taken his chance with both hands in the knockout stages. Competent both in his defensive duties and when lending a hand in attack, he produced one brilliant robbery of the ball followed by a dangerous cross into the Wales box in the 25th minute. Not afraid to try his luck from range.
DF, Jose Fonte, 7/10 -- Fonte's participation in this tournament is a neat metaphor for his whole career. The Southampton captain had to work hard for years as he steadily made his way to the top of the game. Initially not a starter at Euro 2016, Fonte patiently waited for his chance. He has played the past three games, has not put a foot wrong, and looks odds-on to start the final on Sunday.
DF, Bruno Alves, 7/10 -- A surprise selection after Pepe's injury, the big centre-back let nobody down, using his strong aerial game to good effect to help nullify Wales' threat from set pieces.
DF, Raphael Guerreiro, 7/10 -- His fourth game for Portugal at Euro 2016, his fourth highly positive performance. Composure, invention, incisiveness all rolled into one. Fans of A Selecao will be praying he remains fit for the final.
MF, Joao Mario, 7/10 -- Much more involved than against Croatia and Poland, Mario showed flashes of what he is capable of with some excellent combination play, particularly with club colleague Adrien, and generally kept the ball well. Will be disappointed not to have scored when he followed up Nani's effort in the 66th minute.
MF, Danilo, 7/10 -- A sound display in his usual style, keeping things simple and using his height and muscle to good effect. Almost capped the night with a goal: Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey just managed to keep out Danilo's shot after a strong run into the box.
MF, Adrien, 8/10 -- Man-of-the-match performance from the Sporting Clube de Portugal captain, bossing the centre of the pitch with a typical all-action display. Combined tenacious tackling and tracking with swift passing and clever combinations. Another player, like Fonte and Cedric, who did not feature in the group phase but who is now surely a certainty to line up in the final.
MF, Renato Sanches, 6/10 -- The 18-year-old sensation showed his rawness with a series of errant and rushed passes, especially in the first half when he looked ill at ease wide on the right. Improved significantly in the second half, and he will have an important role to play in Paris, for sure.
FW, Nani, 8/10 -- It's remarkable to think that Nani was probably the most contested starter among Portugal fans in the lead-up to Euro 2016. He has been a revelation in his new centre-forward position. The news that he has signed for Valencia will only further boost his confidence. Scored his third goal of the tournament with an opportunist strike and threatened to add to that tally. Reborn.
FW, Cristiano Ronaldo, 8/10 -- For the second match running, Ronaldo was denied a clear penalty as James Collins somehow got away with a headlock more in keeping with a wrestling ring than a football pitch. Ronaldo's thumping header broke the deadlock, his mishit shot led to Portugal's second, and he twice came close to scoring again, once after rounding the keeper but running out of angle, and from a free kick that just cleared the bar.
MF, Andre Gomes, N/R -- Kept Portugal in the ascendency when he replaced Sanches, and on one excellent break set up a great chance for Ronaldo late on.
MF, Joao Moutinho, N/R -- Replaced an exhausted Adrien for the last 10 minutes. Steady as ever.
FW, Ricardo Quaresma, N/R -- Given five minutes, it was time enough to win a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box.
Tom Kundert covers Portuguese football for ESPN FC. Twitter: @PortuGoal1.