Renato Sanches: Portugal only lucky 'because we have worked very hard'
Renato Sanches scored for Portugal in the 33rd minute on Thursday.
Renato Sanches rejected the notion Portugal were lucky to reach the Euro 2016 semifinals and said they would not be affected by their critics as his side advanced after a fifth game without a win in 90 minutes.
Portugal followed three draws in the group stage with an extra-time win over Croatia in the round of 16 and Thursday's quarterfinals victory over Poland on penalties.
Since the group stage began in 1980, Portugal are the first team to reach the Euro semifinals without winning a game in 90 minutes.
But Sanches, who scored Portugal's only goal in his first start at the tournament, said he was just happy to reach the semifinals.
"Right now things are going well for the side. We gave our best on the pitch and critics only made us stronger," he said after being named UEFA's man of the match.
"It is a wonderful moment for the team, for me for scoring, we have been working very hard and we have been doing our best. People criticise us but we don't care, because we are in the semis.
"It takes a lot of hard work to be this lucky. Sometimes we are bound to be lucky because we have worked very hard."
Poland opened the scoring in just the second minute, but Sanches said Portugal never lost faith that they could advance.
"We conceded very early but we believed until the end, we tried our best," he said. "The move for the goal turned out that way, but the team has been playing well, we are very confident so we will keep on trying to play our best."
Sanches stepped up to take Portugal's second penalty after Cristiano Ronaldo took the first, and the 18-year-old did not falter.
"For the penalties, the coach asked who wanted to shoot. Cristiano was first and I said I would be second. The coach had faith in me, and I was confident enough to ask to shoot," he said.
"I was just thinking about scoring, I was very cool, very collected, did what I always do and picked a side and put it in there."
Ricardo Quaresma said he was a little more concerned than his young teammate before scoring the clinching penalty.
"It was enormous pressure," Quaresma said. "I had an entire country in my hands. I stayed positive and I knew it was going to be a goal.
"I didn't have time to think. Before going to the ball I was very confident. We're on the right track and we're going to continue."