Hapless Portugal Tie Northern Ireland


Portugal 1-1 Northern Ireland

The Portugal National team failed to bounce back from their disappointing loss to Russia, as they could only muster a boring draw against Northern Ireland. The team dropped further points, and now sit in third in the group, behind Russia and Israel, who is level on points but is second by virtue of goal difference. Portugal has a nasty habit of playing to their opponent’s level. During last summer’s European championship, Portugal was one of the few teams who could play Spain well. Along the way, they held their own with Germany, and defeated Denmark and Holland. Yet somehow, this team cannot even muster a win against lowly Northern Ireland.

Much of the pre-match buzz was over Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese captain was to win his 100th cap for the Seleccao, and a gala ensued before the match. Consequently, much of the attention was on Ronaldo to make magic happen, and the winger recorded the team’s first shot soon after the starting whistle. The play from Portugal was lethargic in nature, and the team were punished on the half-hour mark by what was becoming a more and more resilient Northern Ireland side. The Irish struck on a counterattack. Lafferty found the onrushing McGinn, who poked the ball over Rui Patricio to give the Northern Irish the lead. Pepe and Joao Pereira were both grossly out of position in the play leading up to the goal. Try as they might, Portugal simply could not find the deadlock. The Seleccao was playing with uncharacteristically low cohesion, which is usually the team’s strong-suits. Portugal went into the half knowing that they needed to improve their performance in the second half.

Portugal came out in the second half and immediately improved the quality of their play. The team peppered the Northern Irish goal with shot after shot, but still could not find that all-important goal. That goal duly arrived in the 80th minute. Bruno Alves sent in an arching cross, which Eder expertly headed down into the path of Helder Postiga, who swiveled and shot into the bottom corner. Postiga had not been enjoying a good night up until that point, but that goal sent the fans into raptures. No matter how hard Portugal tried, they could not beat the resolve of the Northern Ireland defense, who held firm, as the game ended at 1-1.

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira(Eder), Bruno Alves, Pepe, Miguel Lopes(Ruben Amorim), Miguel Veloso, Ruben Micael(Varela), Joao Moutinho, Ronaldo, Nani, Helder Postiga

HIGHLIGHTS

Portugal Dominate in Azerbaijan Encounter


Portugal 3-0 Azerbaijan

A dominant display from the Portuguese National Team led them to a 3-0 victory over a lowly Azerbaijan side. The hosts showed much of the attacking prowess that they lacked against Luxembourg, and were unlucky that the scoreline was not higher in their favor. The team struck the crossbar an astonishing five times, as they ruthlessly attacked the Azerbaijani goal.

The game started brightly, which could not have been said about last week’s game against Luxembourg. Portugal were fully in the driving seat against Azerbaijan, and almost all of the action came from the home side. Joao Pereira and Raul Meireles both had efforts beaten away by the opposition goalkeeper in the opening exchanges between the two teams, before Helder Postiga almost finished off a wonderful team move, only to be denied by the crossbar. Joao Moutinho would then feel unlucky to see two excellent shots not translate into a goal, when one was saved by the keeper and the other thundered back off the crossbar. Portugal would continue to press, with Raul Meireles and Helder Postiga both coming close (the latter of which hit the crossbar). The half ended with the scores still even at 0-0 and Portugal wondering how they were not yet winning.

The second half started much the same as the first. It was evident that Portugal was hungry for a goal, and their play reflected that. Bruno Alves had a header saved soon after the restart, and Ronaldo went close soon after that on three different occasions. The goal was not far off, however. Silvestre Varela was substituted on for Miguel Veloso just after the hour mark, and the substitute made an immediate impact. Some sloppy defending from Azerbaijan opened up a golden opportunity for Varela, who calmly slotted the ball home for his third international goal. That goal did not cause Portugal to slow their attack, however. The Seleccao continued to press, but were constantly thwarted by either the post or the Azerbaijani goalkeeper. The second goal duly arrived a little more than twenty minutes after the first one. A pinpoint cross from Raul Meireles found Ronaldo, whose redirected his header into the path of the onrushing Helder Postiga, who poked the ball home. Portugal was not done, however. Joao Moutinho’s corner kick soon after was met with a thumping header from Bruno Alves into the upper right-hand corner to make the score 3-0. In the dying minutes of the match, Eder was substituted on to make his debut for the Seleccao. That was how the game ended: a comprehensive 3-0 victory for the hosts.

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Miguel Veloso(Varela), Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles, Ronaldo, Nani(Ruben Amorim), Helder Postiga(Eder)

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Portugal Edge Luxembourg


Luxembourg 1-2 Portugal

Portugal were lucky to beat a defensive-minded, physical Luxembourg team today. This game marked the beginning of qualification for the 2014 World Cup for both teams, and both were looking for a positive result. Portugal were riding high after their positive showing at Euro 2012 and their victory over Panama last month, while Luxembourg were the wild card, as ever.

Surprisingly, it was the hosts who started the brighter of the two teams. Left midfielder Joachim shot just over for Luxembourg, before Daniel Da Mota opened the scoring in spectacular fashion. The striker’s first touch out of the air took him around Joao Pereira, and he shot confidently past Rui Patricio. The goal was certainly a wake-up call for the Seleccao, as they began to press harder. Luxembourg poured more men back on defense, but were certainly not content on keeping the score at 1-0. Fifteen minutes after Luxembourg opened the scoring, Ronaldo tied the game up at 1-1. Some chaos on the edge of Luxembourg’s box allowed Joao Moutinho to poke the ball to Ronaldo, whose shot bounced in off the post. Following the goal, Portugal’s play improved considerably. Ronaldo came close with a free kick, and then hit the post after a wonderful lob from Raul Meireles. Soon after, Helder Postiga had a wonderful header saved by the goalkeeper. That was how the half ended: 1-1. Portugal’s play was noticeably improved, but a goal had not come yet.

That goal came soon after the second half commenced.  Joao Moutinho played a ball over the top for Helder Postiga, who side-footed the ball past the keeper to make the score 2-1 in Portugal’s favor. After the goal, the game was badly officiated, as Luxembourg became more physical by the minute. Both the side referees and main referee made blatantly incorrect calls, mostly in Luxembourg’s favor. Nevertheless, Portugal controlled the rest of the match, kept their head, and ground out a victory.

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao, Miguel Veloso(Varela), Raul Meireles(Custodio), Joao Moutinho, Nani(Ruben Micael), Ronaldo, Helder Postiga

Man-of-the-Match: Ronaldo

Crutch-of-the-Match: Miguel Veloso

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Portugal Dismantle Bosnia


Portugal 6-2 Bosnia

Portugal defeated Bosnia by a thrilling scoreline of 6-2 to book their place in Euro 2012. Ronaldo was the star of the show, recording a brace, while Helder Postiga also scored twice. Nani added a spectacular long-ranger, and Miguel Veloso scored his second-ever goal for the Seleccao with a sumptuous free-kick. Portugal were too hot for Bosnia to handle, and while the visitors did make life uncomfortable at times for the Seleccao, Portugal always looked the clear winners.

The game started off almost spectacularly after Raul Meireles failed to finish off a rebound from a Ronaldo shot. That was quickly forgotten when Ronaldo opened the scoring by rifling in a spectacular free kick: his third during Paulo Bento’s reign so far. The team the doubled their lead soon after. Raul Meireles’ simple ball found Nani in quite a bit of room. The winger turned, looked up, and unleashed a ferocious shot that gave the Bosnian goalkeeper no chance. With Portugal up 2-0, the team started to step off the accelerator a bit. They were punished accordingly, if harshly, when Fabio Coentrao handled in the box. The referee awarded a penalty, which Misimovic slotted home cool-as-you-like past Rui Patricio. That was the last event of note that occurred in the first half. The two teams went into their respective locker rooms with the score at 2-1 in Portugal’s favor.

Soon after the break, Portugal were at it again. This time, however, ended in a goal. Some quick thinking from Joao Moutinho put Ronaldo through on goal. The captain rounded the keeper and finished emphatically with his left foot. Once again, with a two-goal cushion, Portugal eased off the pedal. They were once again punished when some lax defending from the team gave Spahic the simplest of finishes. With the scoreline once again within one goal, the Seleccao pushed for more breathing room. They were rewarded on 72 minutes, when a quick pass from substitute Ruben Micael opened up a shot from Helder Postiga, who made no mistakes with his left footed shot, which he buried in the bottom corner. With breathing room restored, Portugal still continued to press for another goal. Just minutes later, the team won a free-kick on the edge of the box. Miguel Veloso struck the ball, which dipped over the wall and into the empty net. The goalkeeper was bamboozled. That goal was only Veloso’s second goal for the National team; the first coming late in 2009 against Malta. The team wasn’t done just yet, however. Almost immediately, Fabio Coentrao was found on the left flank. He surged forward and somehow crossed the ball at the last moment. Helder Postiga was on hand to head the ball home to make the final score 6-2 Portugal and seal their place in next summer’s Euro 2012.

Man-of-the-match: Ronaldo

Crutch-of-the-match: Joao Pereira

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Fabio Coentrao, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Raul Meireles(Ruben Micael), Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Ronaldo, Nani(Quaresma), Helder Postiga(Carlos Martins)

Portugal Defeats Iceland in Goalfest


Portugal 5-3 Iceland

Portugal have raised the eyebrows of many with their slightly unconvincing 5-3 victory over Group H minnows Iceland. The game started off perfectly for Portugal when they took the lead through Nani. A corner was taken short to Eliseu (who was the starting left-back), who hit in a low cross, which Nani deftly got his head to and redirected the ball past the Icelandic keeper. Nani then doubled his tally and Portugal’s lead when he pounced on a very poor clearance from an Icelandic defender and tapped the ball past the onrushing keeper. Portugal appeared to be cruising by this point. The team was hassling their opponents and causing them to make mistakes. Portugal looked to run away with the game. That theory was strengthened when Helder Postiga added Portugal’s third of the night after he connected with a pinpoint Bruno Alves cross. That is how the half ended: 3-0. Portugal’s complete domination was no surprise, and many were looking forwad to more goals in the second half. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they got.

The second half started off very well when Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot cannoned off the crossbar. Many interpreted this as a sign of what was to come. Iceland pulled a goal back soon after the restart, when Jonassen headed past Rui Patricio. The goal was largely a product of Rolando’s poor defensive work, which was also the problem when Iceland socred again. A corner was whipped in for Iceland, and Jonassen was there again, this time at the near post, to poke the ball into the net. With a 3-2 scoreline a bit too worrying, Portugal put their gear into hyper-drive. Eliseu raced down the left flank excellently and cut the ball back for Joao Moutinho, whose one touch shot hit the back of the net. That goal was only Moutinho’s second goal for the Seleccao, despite being an undisputed starter in the team for some time. Portugal didn’t stop there, however. Eliseu opened his account for Portugal and made the scoreline 5-2 when he scored the goal of the match. Eliseu, a naturally left-footed player, curled his right-footed shot on the edge of the box past the Icelandic keeper to give Portugal some breathing room. But the scoring was not over. Rolando added to his disappointing display when he fouled Bjarnason in the box. Sigurdsson converted the penalty with ease to make the final score 5-3. Portugal will now face Denmark on Tuesday in their final Euro 2012 qualification match.

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Eliseu, Joao Moutinho, Carlos Martins(Ruben Micael), Raul Meireles(Miguel Veloso), Nani, Ronaldo, Helder Postiga(Nuno Gomes)

 

Man of the Match: Eliseu

Crutch of the Match: Rolando

 

 

Danny Dropped, Varela his Replacement


Danny has dropped out of the Portuguese squad for their upcoming crunch games against Iceland and Denmark, attributing his absence to personal reasons. Following the Ricardo Carvalho debacle, many are speculating whether Danny indeed left for personal reasons, or if it is an elaborate story to cover up some more disputes. The vice-president of the Portuguese Football Federation, Amandio de Carvalho, denied any controversy whatsoever, stating that the winger simply left for personal reasons. Regardless, Silvestre Varela has been called up as his replacement. This decision has baffled many, who feel that Varela’s poor form this season does not merit an international call-up, and players such as Helder Barbosa and Vieirinha deserve one more. Frankly, I agree with them, but I also see Bento’s reasoning. Varela has been with the squad for some time now, already having played three times for the Seleccao, as compared to Barbosa and Vieirinha, who have yet to debut. Bento is searching for consistency and team chemistry for the two upcoming games, which are crucial.

Portuguese in Europa League


There were many Portuguese players involved last week in the opening Group stage games of this season’s Europa League. Hugo Almeida, Manuel Fernandes, Helder Barbosa, and Vieirinha were the ones who caught the headlines, so here is the entire coverage of every Portuguese player in the Europa League.

Group A

PAOK’s 0-0 home draw against Tottenham Hotspur put the two teams tied for second place. Vieirinha played a full 90 minutes and was one of the game’s brightest players, according to Goal.com. The winger has been in fine form for the Greek team over the past couple of years, and many have called for a Senior Team debut. It hasn’t happened yet, but it surely will in the future.

Group B

Many were surprised when Hannover 96 drew Standard Liege at home 0-0. With the German team one of the favorites to win the group, the 0-0 draw came as quite a surprise. Sergio Pinto started and played for 75 minutes, while Carlitos is still out injured.

Group C

Rapid Bucharesti took away a narrow win from Israel after they defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-0 to secure top spot in the group. Rui Duarte played the entire match, and Filipe Teixeira came on in the dying minutes.

Group D

Hugo Luz was nowhere to be seen for Valusi in their 2-2 draw with Italian giants Lazio.

There were, however, five Portuguese players involved in the Sporting Lisbon-Zurich encounter. Sporting ended the game winners after scoring two unanswered goals in the first half. Jorge Teixeira played the full 90 minutes for Zurich. For Sporting, Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, and (surprisingly) Bruno Pereirinha played the entire game. Andre Santos was substituted in on the hour mark.

Group E

The Portuguese contingent was strong for Besiktas as they recorded a thumping 5-1 victory over Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. Hugo Almeida, Manuel Fernandes, Simao, and Quaresma all started for the Turkish team. Hugo Almeida picked up a brace, Quaresma an assist, and Manuel Fernandes two assists. Bebe looks set to miss at least the first half of the season with an injury, and Julio Alves was nowhere to be seen.

Group G

Yago Fernandez was an unused substitute in Malmo’s 4-1 away loss to AZ.

Group H

Four Portuguese players were involved in Braga’s 3-1 win over Championship side Birmingham. Quim, Hugo Viana, Nuno Gomes, and Helder Barbosa all started for the Portuguese team. Quim and Hugo Viana played the entire game with Nuno Gomes and Helder Barbosa being substituted out in the 73rd and 89th minute, respectively. Helder Barbosa continued his fine form with a brace, and was certainly Braga’s finest players on the night.

Group I

Tiago played the last six minutes for Atletico Madrid as they defeated Celtic 2-0. Pizzi was an unused substitute, while Silvio was nowhere to be seen.

Group J

Geraldo Alves, brother of Julio and Bruno Alves, played a full 90 minutes for Steaua Bucharesti as they drew Schalke 0-0.

Group K

Orlando Sa was an unused substitute for Fulham in their 1-1 draw with Dutch giants Twente. Orlando Sa has also been handed the heralded “number 9” jersey at Fulham.

Group L

Following their 3-2 win over Zenit, Lokomotiv Moscow defeated Sturm Graz 2-1 away from home. Manuel da Costa was nowhere to be seen for the Russian side.

Helder Postiga Heads to Spain


Helder Postiga

Sporting Lisbon to Zaragoza

Sporting striker Helder Postiga will no longer be playing in Portugal after the Lisbon-based club agreed terms with Real Zaragoza, of the Spanish League. The Spanish team had to pay Sporting 1 million euros for his services, and the striker will meet up with fellow countrymen Ruben Micael and Fernando Meira. Postiga has been in sporadic form since arriving at Sporting from Porto in 2008, but has played well enough to merit a spot in the starting lineup for the club and also for the Portuguese National Team.

Portugal 4-0 Spain – Match Report


Three words describe how I feel: In Your Face. I don’t want to sound aggressive, so I am sorry if I come across that way. I have a friend who is an avid Spain fan. He always gives me grief after the Seleccao under-perform. So, as you can gather, I was quite giddy with this win. What Portugal fan wasn’t? This was quite possibly the greatest performance from the Portuguese National Team. The game started off well, with Portugal enjoying most of the ball. Portugal showed quite a will to win, something that Spain did not show. That was the difference. As stated earlier, Portugal started off well, and were the first to make the difference. Too bad it didn’t count. Carlos Martins fed the ball to Ronaldo, who was allowed space to run. Ronaldo easily tricked Pique(I think) and after producing another neat step-over, lobbed the ball to the goal. The ball was about to go in when Nani flew in and headed it into the goal. The linesman incorrectly said that Nani was offside when Ronaldo lobbed the ball, and the goal did not count. This was a huge disappointment, but it was also a sign of thing to come. The first goal duly came soon after wards after Carlos Martins played Ronaldo to the corner. After the Real Madrid man juked-out the Spanish player, his shot was punched away by Casillas. Helder Postiga redirected the rebound to the onrushing Carlos Martins, who made no mistakes with his finish. With Portugal continuing to dominate, they added a second just minutes later. Good movement between Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho, and Joao Pereira left Moutinho clear in the box. He squared the ball to Helder Postiga, who cleverly backheeled the ball into the back of the net. That was how it ended for the first half. Spain were threatening, but they were also finding it difficult to weather the storm that was Portugal’s attack. The second half started well, and Helder Postiga added another goal to Portugal’s tally after Moutinho smartly back-heeled the ball to him. Spain were in a state of shock, but were still not playing with any conviction. It looked as if Portugal were going to walk away with a comfortable 3-0 victory, but after Pepe played Almeida through in stoppage time, the scoreline was increased to a staggering 4-0. That was how it ended. Both Portuguese and Spanish fans alike were astounded. This victory will go down as one of the Seleccao’s most famous. Spain, who are World champions, were just beaten by four goals to nil. That’s right Portuguese fans, bask in it.

Eduardo(Rui Patricio), Bosingwa, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho(Pepe), Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles, Carlos Martins(Manuel Fernandes), Nani(Paulo Machado), Helder Postiga(Hugo Almeida), Ronaldo(Danny)

Rui Patricio and Paulo Machado also made their debuts for the Portuguese Senior Team.

Match Highlights

Portugal Push Aside Iceland


Portugal made it two wins from two for Paulo Bento. Goals from Ronaldo, Raul Meireles, and Helder Postiga gave the visitors a comfortable 3-1 victory over minnows Iceland. The Seleccao put in another assured performance, with Ronaldo, Meireles, and Moutinho at the heart of most of it. Ronaldo put the visitors ahead with one of his trademark free-kicks. I believe it was the first free-kick goal he has scored for Portugal. Nevertheless, it was quite spectacular. After the goal, Portugal continued to dominate, most notably with Hugo Almeida shooting wide. Soon after, some nervous hand from Eduardo let Helguson’s shot in, but that was about the extent of Iceland’s attacking all night. Portugal then made it 2-1 when Raul Meireles picked up a poor clearance from an Icelandic player and smashed the ball into the back of the net. His thunderous drive is a thing to behold. I suggest Youtube-ing it. Substitute Helder Postiga, who is new to the Portugal setup after a two year absence, picked up Portugal’s third after he pounced on a rebound from the Icelandic keeper.

What we learned from this game: 1. Meireles is in great form for Portugal at the moment. 2. Paulo Bento knows what he is doing. 3. Ronaldo is finally being used to his fullest, no doubt because Bento is smart.,

Eduardo, Pereira, Carvalho, Pepe, Coentrao, Meireles, Nani (Danny), Carlos Martins (Tiago), Joao Moutinho, Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida (Postiga)