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Euro 2024: Portugal 2-1 Czech Republic – Conceicao strikes in stoppage-time to stun Czechs

Portugal come from behind to ensure winning start as sub strikes 111 seconds after coming on for stoppage-time

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal came from behind to snatch a stoppage-time winner against Czech Republic in Group F in Leipzig.

The Czechs produced a disciplined defensive display in the first half, which led to frustration for the 2016 winners.

Lukas Provod then scored a beautiful curling strike from 25 yards to stun Portugal just after the hour but an unfortunate own-goal from defender Robin Hranac seven minutes later set up a tense finale.

Diogo Jota saw a goal ruled out for offside four minutes from time but sub Francisco Conceicao popped up to slam home a winner 111 seconds into his competitive debut to break Czech hearts and get Portugal off to a winning start.

History makers

At kick-off Cristiano Ronaldo set a new record as the first man to have played in six European Championships while Pepe, aged 41 years and 113 days, became the oldest player in the competition’s history.

On his 208th cap Ronaldo mis-timed a header from a cross from Rafael Leao, who had pounced on a loose pass and cut in from the left after just eight minutes, sending the ball wide of the upright

Nuno Mendes lashed over from 30 yards as Portugal began to show signs of frustration with the stubborn and organised defensive work of the Czechs while Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandez saw long-range efforts deflected off target.

Fernandes curled a low ball into the box on the break which the sliding Leao was inches away from converting but just after the half hour Fernandes unlocked the defence for the first time with a pass to Ronaldo.

On-rushing keeper Jindrich Stanek – once on the books of Everton and who played five games on loan at non-league Hyde United in 2015 – did superbly to block his shot and then was up in time to clutch Vitinha’s follow-up curler from the edge of the box.

A Ronaldo back-heel almost sent Vitinha through, only for Hranac to crowd him out in the box and Portugal’s frustration grew as Leao was shown a yellow card for simulation after going down on the edge of the box under minimal contact from Tomas Soucek

Stanek came to the rescue in first-half stoppage time as Ronaldo spun onto a pass from Joao Cancelo and whipped in an angled shot with his left foot which the keeper parried away to ensure the first goalless first-half of the tournament.

More of the same after the break

The possession, territory and pressure continued after the turnaround as Diogo Dalot curled a left-footed shot over the angle of post and bar from outside the area.

Patrik Schick blazed an effort well over the bar from a near impossible angle on a rare Czech foray forward on 50 minutes but at the other end Ronaldo saw a header from a Ruben Dias cross deflected over and then was denied a free-header from close range by Soucek’s timely intervention.

Schick went into the book after a striker’s challenge on Cancelo 25 yards out on 57 minutes with Ronaldo firing the subsequent free-kick towards goal but seeing Stanek gather the ball at the second attempt – his 29th direct free-kick attempt across six European Championships without scoring.

The deadlock was eventually broken against the run of play just after the hour when Portugal failed to clear a cross from the left and Coufal laid the ball into the path of Provod 25 yards out to produce a sublime first-time finish, whipping the ball past the dive of Diogo Costa and inside the far post.

Portugal boss Roberto Martinez rang the changes and his side was level on 69 minutes when Nuno Mendes nodded a deep Vitinha cross back into the middle and Stanek nervously parried the ball into the shin of Hranac, who couldn’t avoid the ball looping into the net for the equaliser.

Bernardo Silva pinched possession and smashed in an angled strike which bounced back off the keeper’s chest moments later as Portugal sought a winner while Vitinha’s low skidder on 78 minutes was turned around his right post by Stanek.

Moments after coming on Czech sub Antonin Barak saw a low shot in the area blocked by Ruben Dias inside the final 10 minutes, with Soucek dragging the follow-up narrowly wide.

Late drama

Portugal thought the winner had arrived with less than four minutes of normal time remaining as Ronaldo’s downward header from Cancelo’s swirling cross came back off the post for sub Diogo Jota to nod in the rebound, but Ronaldo was adjudged to have been inches offside by the semi-automated review system and the celebrations were cut short.

They were able to resume them two minutes into the four added minutes as Pedro Neto drove in from the left and fired in a cross which was blocked by Hranac but dropped to Conceicao who hammered a low shot in from close range to spark wild celebrations.

Neto and Conceicao had been on the field less than two minutes when they combined for the goal, which came in the 21-year-old’s first competitive appearance and almost 24 years to the day after his father Sergio’s hat-trick ensured Portugal beat Germany at Euro 2000.

Portugal face Turkey – 3-1 winners over Georgia in the evening’s early game – in their crucial second match in Dortmund on Saturday (5pm BST) three hours after Georgia and Czech Republic meet in Hamburg.

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.