Faroe Islands 0-6 Portugal
The Seleção rounded off the international break with another straightforward victory over the Faroe Islands tonight in Tórshavn. André Silva continued his blistering start to life with the senior side, scoring three first half goals as Portugal climbed to 2nd place in their World Cup qualifying group.
Fernando Santos was forced to make a change at left back with Vitorino Antunes deputizing for the injured Raphael Guerreiro, but he also added a bit more steel in midfield with Bernardo Silva and Moutinho making way for William Carvalho and João Mário.
The tactical adjustment mirrored Santos' pre-match thoughts about the Faroe Islands when he compared their organizational strength to that of Iceland, 2-0 victors over Turkey in yesterday's World Cup qualifying match in Reykjavik.
Portugal made a lethargic start to the match with several misplaced passes in the opening minutes. The Faroese meanwhile were intent on sending long balls to their physical strikers and exploiting free kick opportunities.
A forward revelation
But Portugal struck on the counter with their first meaningful chance of the game in the 12th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo showed exquisite touch to release João Mário with a simple flick of the heel of his boot. Despite the attention of several defenders, André Silva brought the Inter Milan midfielder's throughball under control and placed his finish out of reach of the onrushing Gunnar Nielsen in goal.
Silva put his name on the scoresheet yet again with a well-placed header after the Faroese defence failed to deal with a Ricardo Quaresma cross-shot in the 22nd minute. It was Silva's 3rd goal for the Seleção in as many matches, an incredible start to the young Porto striker's national team career.
Portugal struggled for consistency in their passing, and goal-mouth chances were scarce, but Portugal were far more clinical than usual as a result of Andre Silva's excellent poaching. The 20 yr old scored again in the 37th minute following good work from João Cancelo. The Valencia fullback had drifted into acres of space through the right channel, and unleashed a piledriver that Nielsen could only parry into the path of Silva who gobbled up the rebound to complete a first half hat-trick.
Ronaldo scores 67th international goal
Ronaldo was denied minutes into the second half after being sent clean through by João Mário. Afterwards Portugal's threat was intermittent at best and the home side crafted their first half-chance in the 64th minute as a botched clearance was latched onto by Edmundsson on the edge of the penalty area. But another exchange between Mário and Ronaldo resulted in Portugal's fourth goal of the match. A simple 1-2 combination freed Ronaldo to shoot, and the Real Madrid striker hammered the ball past Nielsen with his weaker left foot.
Gelson came on for Quaresma in the 67th minute and immediately drove down the right wing to cross for André Silva, whose goalbound effort was pushed around the far post by Nielsen. Pepe's point blank header from the resulting corner kick was blocked on the line by Davidsen.
Eder and João Moutinho rounded out Santos' three substitutions as Portugal wound down the clock to secure victory. Moutinho added the icing on the cake with a well-struck goal from outside the box after being teed up by Gelson. The Sporting winger notched another assist just moments later when he played in Cancelo with a slide-rule pass that the Valencia fullback finished off with the last kick of the game.
Though not a classic display of attacking ingenuity, Portugal were more efficient with big performances from Mário, Silva, and again Ronaldo. Conversely, Antunes' struggles at left back revealed the importance of Raphael Guerrero's influence on this side, especially with Fabio Coentrão's lengthy injury absence. The Dynamo Kiev fullback struggled positionally and clearly lacked chemistry with the rest of the squad. Gelson again showed energy, pace, and intelligence in a substitute cameo and his performance combined with another Cancelo goal reveals the depth of talent making the leap into the senior team.
Switzerland defeated Andorra to remain atop Group B on nine points while Hungary earned their first win of the qualification campaign. Portugal will finish the calendar year on the road against Latvia in November.
by Nathan Motz
Portugal: Rui Patrício, João Cancelo, Pepe, José Fonte, Antunes, William Carvalho, João Mário (Moutinho, 81'), André Gomes, Ricardo Quaresma (Gelson, 67'), Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva (Eder, 79')
Faroe Islands: Gunnar Nielsen, Sonni Nattestad, Atli Gregersen, Viljormur Davidsen, Bardur Hansen, Hallur Hansson, Fródi Benjaminsen, Gilli Sorensen, Solvi Vatnhamar, Joan Edmundsson, Brandur Olsen
[0-1] Silva, 12'
[0-2] Silva, 22'
[0-3] Silva, 37'
[0-4] Ronaldo, 65'
[0-5] Moutinho, 90'
[0-6] Cancelo, 90'