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.
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.
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.
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)
Paulo Bento has released a list of 23 for Portugal’s upcoming games against Iceland and Denmark. This is Bento’s first set of call-ups since taking over the role of Portugal National Team Head Coach. Some notable inclusions are Joao Pereira (who has been impressing for Sporting Lisbon lately), Paulo Machado (who has made a name for himself this season for Toulouse), and Carlos Martins (who many feel should be a regular for the National side). One more notable inclusion is Helder Postiga, who has been revitalized under new Sporting Lisbon coach Paulo Sergio (as evidence with the goal he scored yesterday). Here’s the full list: