Hat-trick Hero Ronaldo Leads Portugal Past Northern Ireland


Ronaldo - Northern Ireland vs Portugal

 

Northern Ireland 2-4 Portugal

2014 World Cup Qualfication

It was a night to remember for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese captain started and scored three goals in a 4-2 come-from-behind win against Northern Ireland in 2014 World Cup qualification. Accused of under-performing for Portugal in the past, those criticisms are quickly being forgotten. This win keeps Portugal at the top of their qualification group, ahead of Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland, and Luxembourg (though they’ve played one more game).

The game started off as a relatively even affair between the two teams. Bento had named a familiar starting lineup, one that has worked for him in the past. The first goal came in the 21st minute. A corner kick was swung in by Joao Moutinho. The ball met the head of a Northern Ireland defender, who cleared the ball to the edge of the box. Bruno Alves was waiting, and promptly side-foot-volleyed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net to make the score 0-1 in Portugal’s favor. This was the first clear opportunity of the night, and the quality of play was encouraging. Vieirinha, who replaced the off-form Nani in the starting lineup, came close with a near-post shot after some impressive wing-play. Play soon fell in the favor of the hosts, who began pressing Portugal more and more. Northern Ireland was soon rewarded when an in-swinging corner kick was met by the head of Gareth McAuley. With the scores leveled,  Helder Postiga very stupidly picked up a red card just before half-time because of a failure to keep his temper in check. Both the teams went into the locker room level on the scoreboard, but Northern Ireland definitely had the run of play in their favor.

The second half started in the worst possible fashion for Portugal. Another corner kick from Northern Ireland caused confusion in the Portuguese box, allowing Jaime Ward to score his first international goal. It was not the start that Portugal had been hoping for, though it came as no surprise, given the events of the first half. Portugal began to press harder and harder after the goal, with Miguel Veloso most notably coming close with a long-range bullet. The equalizer came soon after Veloso’s effort. Moutinho swung in a corner kick, which was met by the head of Cristiano Ronaldo. The header was unstoppable, and the scores were now leveled at 2-2. The momentum was starting to shift, and Portugal began pushing even more, in search of a winning goal. That search only lasted about ten minutes. Fabio Coentrao picked up the ball deep on the left side, and sent an early, looping cross into the box. Ronaldo was there to head the ball in the net, making the score 3-2 in Portugal’s favor. The Selecaao (rather Ronaldo) weren’t done just yet. Winning a free kick on the edge of the box, Ronaldo struck the ball through the wall and into the Northern Irish net to make the score 4-2, and completing his first-ever hat-trick for Portugal.

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

HIGHLIGHTS HERE

Bento Names Squad of 23 for Brazil and Northern Ireland Clashes


Portugal vs Croatia - RonaldoPaulo Bento announced today a list of 23 players for the Seleccao’s upcoming matches against Northern Ireland and Brazil. The Northern Ireland match, to be played on September 6, is a crucial World Cup qualifying match for the Seleccao. Portugal currently sits in first (with a game in hand) in their qualifying group, but must win all of their remaining games for any hope of qualifying. Three days later, the team travels to the United States for a friendly match against Brazil. The squad list is below:

Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patrício (Sporting)

Defenders: João Pereira (Valência), Ricardo Costa (Valência), Pepe (Real Madrid), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahçe), Neto (Zenit), Antunes (Málaga)

Midfielders: Rúben Amorim (Benfica), Miguel Veloso (Dínamo Kiev), Rúben Micael (Braga), João Moutinho (Mónaco), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahçe), André Martins (Sporting), Josué (FC Porto)

Forwards: Danny (Zenit), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Hélder Postiga (Valência)

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

Nelson Called to Replace Coentrao


Paulo Bento has called up Nelson to replace the injured Fabio Coentrao for the team’s upcoming match against Northern Ireland. Coentrao hobbled off the pitch during Portugal’s last game against Russia, and it appears that the defender will not recover in time for the game this week. Called to replace Coentrao and to give the Seleccao cover in the right/left back spots is Nelson, currently playing for Real Betis. Also dropped is Raul Meireles, who also cannot shake off his injury. No replacement will be called for Meireles.

2014 World Cup Qualification Groups Drawn


FIFA announced earlier this week the qualification groups for the 2014 World Cup, slated to be held in Brazil. Portugal drew a seemingly easy group with Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, and Luxembourg. This group seems easier than the ones in the immediate past, but, as we have learned, Portugal has a knack of making a mess of things. Hopefully, under Paulo Bento, those days are over. Russia will be the most likely to give the team a run for their money, and Israel has an outside chance of doing just the same.