Portugal 1-0 Argentina
A last-minute goal from 20 year-old left back Raphael Guerreiro was enough to give Portugal a narrow 1-0 win over Argentina in a match played at Manchester United’s home ground, Old Trafford. The build-up to the match was predictably centered around the Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry, but neither player influenced the game too heavily, and both exited play at half time. Overall, many would probably agree that the final scoreline did not reflect the way the game unfolded, but Fernando Santos and co. surely won’t complain.
Santos selected a lineup that was greatly changed from the squad that faced Armenia just days ago. Beto was given a run in goal, while starting goalkeeper Rui Patricio was rested. In front of Beto were Bruno Alves and Pepe in the middle, with Bosingwa and debutant Tiago Gomes on the right and left of defense, respectively. In midfield, Tiago Mendes was joined by Joao Moutinho and Valencia young gun Andre Gomes, who made just his third appearance for the team. Up top, Danny, Nani, and star man Cristiano Ronaldo all rotated between attacking positions.
This match proved to be an experiment of sorts for head coach Fernando Santos. Santos gave debuts to no fewer than three players. Adrien Silva, Tiago Gomes, and Jose Fonte all debuted for the team, and all three performed admirably.
The game started with Argentina largely on top, as could be predicted from a side as strong as the South Americans. Portugal spent the majority of the first half chasing the game, and though Argentina controlled possession and dictated the tempo of the match, they failed to fashion many clear-cut opportunities. Argentina’s dominance was not due to a deficiency in Portugals’ defence, but rather the Seleccao’s midfield. The Portuguese were constantly over-run in midfield, which allowed Argentina to waltz to the edge of Portugal’s box, but few chances were created beyond that point. Overall, Argentina clearly looked the better team in the first half.
The second half proved to become a different story, on the other hand. Argentina continued their dominance in the first part of the half, but the introduction of both Eder and Quaresma changed the game for Portugal. Though Eder’s footwork and ball control often got the best of him, the Braga striker’s presence on the field proved to be a welcome one, as he provided a focal point for the team’s attack. His physicality and work ethic put the Argentine defense under much more pressure than they had when Danny was challenging the ball. Quaresma, on the other hand, provided a bit of flair and pace to the Portuguese team, which was something they noticeably lacked in the first half. Also introduced at half time was Southampton captain Jose Fonte, who many feel should have been in the team sooner. His performance in the second half was solid, so solid in fact, that Pepe’s presence was not missed at all. Though Argentina was clearly the better team in the second half, a late surge in the match was enough to push Portugal to a victory. In stoppage time, substitute Adrien Silva’s deflected shot fell out wide to Ricardo Quaresma, whose one-touch cross was met perfectly by the onrushing Raphael Guerreiro’s head to give Portugal a dramatic, and some would say undeserved, victory.
PortugalFutbol Man of the Match: Ricardo Quaresma
Beto, Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Pepe(Jose Fonte), Tiago Gomes(Raphael Guerreiro), Tiago(William Carvalho), Joao Moutinho, Andre Gomes(Adrien Silva), Danny(Eder), Ronaldo(Quaresma), Nani