Wales’ fairytale run at Euro 2016 ended with Cristiano Ronaldo the architect of Portugal’s progress into the final.
The match had been billed in some quarters as a private duel between Real Madrid team-mates Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, and the Portuguese won it hands down after a cagey and scoreless first period.
Ronaldo scored with a bullet header five minutes after the break and then quickly set up Nani as Portugal ran out convincing 2-0 winners in Lyon.
This has been a tournament where Ronaldo has not been at his brilliant best, scoring only twice in five games and throwing the odd tantrum both with his team-mates on the pitch and the media off it.
But he delivered when it mattered and, when he dispatched Raphael Guerreiro’s cross, it drew him level with Michel Platini’s record of nine goals at the finals of the European Championships.
For Ronaldo, who spoiled his copy book with a second half booking, there would also have been the added pleasure of putting Bale in his place.
The Welshman briefly flickered in the first half, and would have staked a claim for the goal of the tournament if his 50-yard run had ended with the ball in the net rather than the arms of Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
But it was a night when Wales ran out of attacking ideas and Bale constantly found himself crowded out by three or four Portugal players at a time.
However, defeat should not detract from what has been a fabulous tournament for Wales, the first time they have reached the last four of a major finals.
Less than five years ago Wales were ranked 117th in the world, yet when the World Cup qualifiers start in September they could be inside the top six.
“We’re massively disappointed, but we’ve got to be proud of ourselves first and foremost,” Bale said afterwards.
“We’ve given everything on and off the pitch and tried to enjoy the experience of the tournament.
“We want to thank all the fans because the support we’ve had has been absolutely incredible. Naturally we’re disappointed.
“Maybe we felt we should have got more out of the game. They got the first goal and were a bit lucky with how their second went in.
“We tried our hardest to get back into the game and fought until the last second.
“We’re sorry we couldn’t get to the final, but we gave everything.
“They shut up shop quite well and limited our opportunities, so fair do’s to them. We gave everything and have no regrets. We’re a proud nation and are proud of what we achieved. Obviously we’d have loved to get to the final and challenge for the trophy, but it wasn’t to be.”
Bale’s Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo nodded home the opener in Portugal’s 2-0 victory.
“He’s a natural goalscorer and he scored yet again,” added Bale.