Bench-warmer sparks Portuguese win 0
Portugal's Silvestre Varela celebrates after scoring the eventual game-winning goal against Denmark during Euro 2012 action in Lviv, Ukraine, on June 13, 2012. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)
Cristiano Ronaldo is on the covers of magazines, has had his image on a Johannesburg skyscaper as part of an ad campaign at World Cup 2010, and is in the hearts of many a swooning young lady.
Silvestre Varela is often on the bench. At least when it comes to the Portuguese national team.
But in this tale of two players, it was Varela who became the unlikely hero for Portugal, making up for a couple of late Ronaldo flubs in the process.
Portuguese hopes of advancing out of the Group of Death are much stronger today thanks to the efforts of Varela, a substitute who came off the sideline to score the dramatic winner in the 87th minute for a 3-2 victory over a crushed Danish team in Lviv, Ukraine.
Varela's marker came after Ronaldo, still searching for his first goal in Euro 2012, missed on a couple of excellent scoring chances that had the Portuguese supporters figuring a draw was imminent.
With the Portuguese having blown a 2-0 lead in the game, their prospects of getting out of Group B into the final 16 seemed bleak.
Cue Varela's goal heard 'round Portugal.
Thanks to Varela's cleats, the Portuguese are in much better position in Group B.
The Germans, with a 2-1 victory Wednesday over the Dutch, are at the top of the table with six points, followed by Portugal and Denmark, each with three. The Netherlands shockingly trails the pack with zero.
All will be decided Sunday in the final set of group stage games when the Portuguese face the Dutch and the Danes clash with the Germans. At this point, all four teams still have an opportunity to advance.
Varela had a lot to do with that.