U21s One Step Closer to Qualification

Ricardo Esgaio - Portugal U21 - with Luis Martins and Ricardo

Portugal 2-0 Macedonia

2015 UEFA U-21 Euro Qualification

The Portuguese Under-21 team took another step toward direct qualification to the 2015 UEFA U-21 European Championship today with a 2-0 win over Macedonia. The Portuguese can be rightly proud of how they played, having dominated the majority of the match. U-21 coach Rui Jorge took the opportunity to award four players with their first U-21 caps, with Ruben Vezo, Marcos Lopes, Carlos Mane, and Goncalo Paciencia all earning well-deserved debuts.

Rui Jorge named a strong starting eleven, with Ricardo Esgaio and Luis Martins operating on the flanks in defense, on the right and left, respectively. Paulo Oliveira, an established starter both for his club, Vitoria Guimaraes, and the U-21s, started in central defense alongside Ruben Vezo, who recently scored the winning goal in Valencia’s victory over Granada. Rui Jorge opted to play Rio Ave’s Luis Gustavo as an anchorman in midfield, with Andre Gomes and Joao Mario joining him in central midfield. On the wings were Carlos Mane, who has established himself as a starter for Sporting this season, and Bernardo Silva, who has enjoyed a wonderful season for Benfica B. Goncalo Paciencia earned a starting spot as the team’s striker.

Goals from Bernardo Silva and Ricardo Esgaio sealed the win for the Seleccao.

Jose Sa, Ruben Vezo, Paulo Oliveira, Luis Martins, Ricardo Esgaio, Luis Gustavo, Andre Gomes(Sergio Oliveira), Joao Mario, Bernardo Silva(Marcos Lopes), Carlos Mane(Ricardo), Goncalo Paciencia


Match Report: Portugal 2-0 China

Portugal edged China on Wednesday, with the typical great first-half showing, and the abysmal second-half showing. Goals were scored by Hugo Almeida and Liedson. Porto winger Varela debuted for the Seleccao, who were sporting their brand-spanking-new World Cup away jerseys. Henrique Hilario also made his national team debut, coming on for Eduardo.

Portugal started off the game looking confident, with Nani and Almeida both coming close to breaking the deadlock, but just after the 30 minute mark, Cristiano Ronaldo won the ball at half-line, and threaded his pin-point pass to Hugo Almeida, who blasted it into the back of the net. Soon after, Duda’s beautifully taken free-kick ricocheted off of the crossbar. Portugal were not really searching for that second goal. The second half was hard to watch. Due to all of the substitutions, Portugal failed to really find their flow, and with Tiago having been substituted out, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles were not filling the void well. The best chance of the second half fell to Raul Meireles, who sent his powerful shot into the post after some nice wing play from Varela left him with a shot. With the final minutes ticking away, it looked as if the score would stay at 1-0. In the 94th minute, however, a Raul Meireles corner kick was headed to Moutinho, whose long shot was deflected into the goal by Liedson, making the final score 2-0 Portugal.

Overall it was a decent showing, but Portugal have a lot of work to do if they wish to advance out of their World Cup group.

Eduardo (Hilario, 46), Paulo Ferreira, Rolando, Bruno Alves (Tonel, 63), Duda (Miguel, 46), Raul Meireles, Tiago (Pedro Mendes, 46), Simao (Joao Moutinho, 46), Cristiano Ronaldo (Liedson, 46), Hugo Almeida, Nani (Varela, 62)