Once again in this European Championship, Cristiano Ronaldo was the difference-maker for Portugal, scoring one goal and assisting on the other in Portugal’s 2-0 win over Wales in the tournament’s first semifinal match. After a quiet first half, Ronaldo scored in the 50th minute off a corner kick. He jumped into the air, hung there for a seemingly impossible amount of time, and slammed a header home to put Portugal up 1-0. A goal like this makes you extra thankful for slo-mo.
Wales, led by Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale, barely had time to regroup before Portugal struck again. Ronaldo slid a ball into the box and Nani managed to get a foot on it to redirect it into the back of the net.
The comprehensive defeat ended Wales’ unlikely run to the semis in the country’s first major international tournament since the 1958 World Cup. But for Welsh fans like Sky Sports presenter Bryn Law, who spoke to Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen earlier this week, making the semifinals was more than enough.
For Ronaldo, the goal was his ninth in European Championship play, which tied Michel Platini’s record, and reminded everyone why he’s the second-best player in the world. Naturally, whenever Ronaldo does something great, the announcers have to bring up his rival Lionel Messi. Today, instead of comparing stats and titles, ESPN’s Jon Champion took a jab at the Argentina and Barcelona star, drawing a strange parallel between Ronaldo’s goal and Messi’s trouble with the law.
It’s an ongoing debate isn’t it? Who’s better, Ronaldo or Messi? And who’s better on a particular day, Ronaldo or Messi? Well today, Ronaldo has scored in a European Championship semifinal whilst his archrival has been convicted of tax fraud in Spain. So there is quite a contrast.
Portugal—who before the semis hadn’t won a match in regulation time in the Euros—will play the winner of Thursday’s France and Germany semifinal in Sunday’s championship match. If Portugal wins, it will be Ronaldo’s first major title in his national team jersey. As Ronaldo fans will be happy to tell you, Messi is stuck on zero titles for Argentina.
Read more Slate coverage of Euro 2016.