Portugal kept on course for Russia 2018 with a 5-1 victory over the Faroe Islands in Porto tonight, in a match that at times resembled more a training ground exercise than a World Cup qualifier.

Cristiano Ronaldo showed no lack of sharpness despite being in the middle of a 5-match ban for his club side Real Madrid. The Portugal captain bagged a hat-trick, with William Carvalho and Nelson Oliveira scoring the other goals.

The Seleção now travel to Budapest where they will play Hungary on Sunday evening, with victory crucial given that Switzerland also won tonight to maintain their 100% record to stay top of Group B.

With the front two of André Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo and the back four relatively stable (Rapha Guerreiro was injured, so Eliseu continued to deputise at left-back), it is in midfield that Fernando Santos has the trickier decisions to make in his team selections, not least because of Portugal’s embarrassment of riches in that department.

The coach opted for William Carvalho and João Moutinho in the centre, with João Mário left and Bernardo Silva on the right, although both had licence to frequently cut inside.

Strong start

It seemed the perfect strategy early doors as the hosts barely gave their modest opponents a sniff of the ball, taking the lead on just three minutes with a fine goal. The ball was smoothly transported across the pitch through a succession of quick accurate passes, with Cédric playing in Bernardo Silva who hit the bye-line and delivered a cross that Cristiano Ronaldo thumped into the net via a stylish scissor kick (pictured above).

The visitors were hardly able to get out of their defensive half in the opening 15 minutes, although Portugal did not turn their dominant ball possession into chances during this period. As the half hour approached William Carvalho with a long-range effort and headers by André Silva and Ronaldo came close to scoring in quick succession.

In the 28th minute João Mário was tripped in the box for a clear penalty, that Ronaldo duly dispatched into the net to double Portugal’s lead.

Faroes goalkeeper Nielson then saved well at full-stretch to deny Ronaldo, but Portugal were stunned shortly afterwards as the defence failed to deal adequately with a long throw-in and Baldvinsson powered an excellent first-time volley past Patrício.

Chances came and went for Moutinho, André Silva and Bernardo Silva as the islanders held Portugal to a one-goal lead for 20 minutes either side of half time, but the hosts restored the two-goal cushion just before the hour mark as a neat Cristiano Ronaldo cross was headed into the corner of the net by the excellent William Carvalho.

Another day, another hat-trick

Ronaldo then completed his hat-trick, making it look easy as the ball broke to him in the box and he dribbled past his man and tucked the ball into the corner of the net. There was still time for substitute Nelson Oliveira to mark his recall to the Seleção with a goal, Ronaldo’s fierce cross too hot to handle for the Faroes defence.

The captain was therefore directly involved in all five goals and showed no ill-effects of his enforced stoppage. Sunday will be a tougher test, but as Ronaldo said, “this performance boosts our morale going into the next game.”

The qualifying campaign is increasingly pointing towards a showdown against the Swiss in the final match in Lisbon.

by Tom Kundert

Portugal: Patrício, Cédric, Pepe, Fonte, Eliseu, William, João Moutinho (André Gomes, 72’), João Mário (Quaresma, 59’), Bernardo Silva, André Silva (Nelson Oliveira, 80’), Ronaldo

Faroe Islands: Nielsen, Tór Naes, Gregersen, Faerø, Davidsen, Jakobsen, Baldvinsson, Vatnhamar, Sørensen, Joensen, Edmundsson

Goals:

[1-0] Ronaldo, 3’

[2-0] Ronaldo (pen), 28’

[2-1] Baldvinsson, 38’

[3-1] William Carvalho, 58’

[4-1] Ronaldo, 65’

[5-1] Nelson Oliveira, 84’

 

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People in this conversation

  • Guest - Joao

    Where would we be without Ronaldo. He's simply out of this world.
    William was an absolute beast. I hope he either stays at Sporting for one more season or goes to Monaco. He's too good for West Ham.
    This game proved that we desperately need to do some thing about our CB issue though but Santos is completely reluctant.
    Also what is the point in bringing in Gomes in a match like this. Why not Fernandes or Bruma. Seriously, complete waste of a sub that could have been used more wisely. It's like Santos has a quota and needs to force him to play as many matches possible. It's so frustrating.
    Anyway beat Hungary and we have qualification in our hands.

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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    Snooze fest. Faroe Islands is a sad sad team. 10 man behind the ball for 90 minutes, goalkeeper time wasting when his team is down 4-1. The players looked like they were there out of obligation and had no interest to play football. Really disgraceful. Enjoy your flight home.. We'll take our points and move on.

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  • Guest - Filipe

    A nice tidy win with strong performances fron Willam Carvalho and Ronaldo. People took the Faroe Islands for granted but they gave Greece massive problems in Euro qualifying. Hungary game huge, must win.

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    While many are quick to mention that the Faroe Islands are far from a quality national team, we had a great deal of difficulty beating these bus-parking European minnows in the Queiroz and Bento eras, so it's refreshing to see us finally being able to defeat these extremely humble national teams with relative ease.

    Ronaldo and William were the standout performers. Ronaldo has certainly been taking advantage of such a weak qualifying group, so I would not be surprised if he manages to bag another 5 or 6 goals by the end of the qualification phase. He's still pretty far away from Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals, but I definitely wouldn't bet against him breaking it, especially if he manages to represent the Seleccao for the next 4-5 years.

    Bernardo, Moutinho, and Joao Mario also had solid games. Andre Silva was awful -- hopefully, last night's game was just a fluke.

    As others have mentioned numerous times on this site, we are currently in the midst of the strongest generation of Portuguese talent since the golden generation of Figo and Rui Costa, so there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the future. We have quite a few exciting young talents with world-class potential, especially on the wings, in midfield, and at the full-back positions. Center-back is the only position I'm worrying about. Hopefully one of Paulo Oliveira, Ruben Semedo, and Edgar Ie can make the jump up to the senior side in the not so distant future.

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