Andorra 0-2 Portugal

Despite starting the night on the bench, Cristiano Ronaldo yet again inspired Portugal to victory over a stubborn Andorra side in the penultimate match of World Cup qualification.

Portugal's captain scored the first goal and played a vital role in the second as the Seleção were able to sidestep the misfortune of dropping crucial points before the clinching match against Switzerland.

In addition to withholding Ronaldo, Fernando Santos made a number of other key changes to the usual starting XI with Nelsinho, Danilo, Neto, and Quaresma featuring in an attack-minded lineup.

Portugal built patiently from the back as Andorra eased into a compact defensive formation as expected. The ball rarely left the Andorran defensive half but it took nearly 20 minutes for Portugal to test Josep Gomes in goal. Bernardo Silva's cross was only just too high for André Silva and could have crept in at the back post had Gomes not been alert to the danger. 

Quaresma should have done better in the 25th minute when Nélson's deflected cross found him at the back post, but he misplaced his header wide right. Minutes later Gomes was forced into action by Quaresma when he managed to curl in a shot towards the far post. 

André Silva was the next to go close when a failed clearance fell to him on the right side of the penalty area. His attempted volley was struck firmly but sailed well over the crossbar. Even Pepe got in on the action with a sizzling effort from the left that Gomes parried out for another corner. 

But the first half came and went with the Andorrans able to successfully keep the score deadlocked.

Cristiano Ronaldo came on in place of Gelson to start the second half but still Portugal struggled to create chances in the crowded attacking third of the pitch. Quaresma had a tame effort scooped up by Gomes in the 55th minute then André Silva failed to connect with Ronaldo's cut-back pass.

But the decision to introduce Ronaldo was justified in the 63rd minute when João Mário's cross took a touch off an Andorran defender and found Portugal's captain unmarked in front of goal. Ronaldo finished past Gomes to give Portugal a deserved lead.

Bernardo Silva very nearly doubled Portugal's advantage in the 73rd minute after a goalmouth scramble was followed by his angled effort being deflected out for a corner. But despite having a generally off night, André Silva made Portugal's hard work count in the 86th minute when he tucked home Danilo's headed cross.

Against a team with 10 men behind the ball, Portugal were once again able to obtain a difficult result. Without Ronaldo's participation the match may have gone differently but Santos gambled wisely and Portugal will return home to face Switzerland in 3 days with O Capitão available. Bernardo Silva and Nélson Semedo both put in good shifts, and Danilo controlled play well from holding midfield as Portugal racked up 21 total shots and 76% possession.

Portugal's World Cup qualification fate will be determined on Tuesday at the Estadio da Luz. Switzerland defeated Hungary 5-2  at home to confirm the winner-takes-all occasion.

 

Starting Lineups

Andorra: Josep Gomes, Chus Rubio, Ildefons Lima, Max Llovera, Moisés San Nicolás, Victor Rodríguez, Marc Rebés, Marc Vales, Ludovic Clemente, Marcio Vieira, Jordi Aláez

Portugal: Rui Patrício, Nélson Semedo, Pepe, Neto, Eliseu, Danilo, João Mário, Bernardo Silva, Gelson (Cristiano Ronaldo, 46'), André Silva (Guedes, 90'), Quaresma (William, 79')

Goals:

[0-1] Cristiano Ronaldo, 63'

[0-2] André Silva, 86'

 

by Nathan Motz

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People in this conversation

  • I'm convinced Eliseu is color blind. Dude is pathetic. It's absurd how someone like Ricardo Pereira or someone else dosen't get a chance over him.

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  • Guest - Ricardo Antunes

    thank god we have Ronaldo, always the difference maker for Portugal...i am NOT looking forward to the day he retires...and we will be regulated back to a mediocre team...no offense to our young talent but they do not have the level of consistency to play at high level club/country....without Ronaldo i believe it would be a 0-0 tie...

    from Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Guest - Dave

    It’s pathetic how over reliant this team still is on Ronaldo.

    Antunes better start against the Swiss

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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    A win is a win.

    Performance was underwhelming but no reason to look into it too much. We played at Andorra. Their turf is an artificial joke. You could see the ball pin balling around making it very hard for our players to pass and keep control. We had to resort to launching the ball down the field several times. 10 man were parking the bus for 90 minutes and they triple teamed us out wide because they know how difficult it is to make a quality pass. CR's goal happened because the pinball machine titled in our favor.. thankfully.

    Expecting a much more vibrant match at home against the Swiss. Don't let their score line fool you. They just fed off a depleted Hungary squad that picked up key yellow card suspensions the previous match against us. Our squad knows what the objective is. We all have been anticipating this match for a while and no doubt the players have too. No matter if Santos said the focus was on Andorra.. you could see where the minds were. Switzerland only need a draw so they could sit back but we need to push forward regardless. It's not like were up against Germany or Brazil.. the top 2 countries according to the latest FIFA rankings. And guess who's #3? A team like Switzerland doesn't get to enter in our territory and leave before being demolished after what happened last year. Santos also said this isn't about revenge.. certainly it's nothing personal but ask the players if their motivation hasn't significantly sky-rocked. This is only the perfect diversionary tactic. It's going to be a beat down of epic proportions. Get ready.

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  • I didn't see the first half, anyone care to give a player rating?

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  • Jerrold, not much to rate honestly. As I mentioned in the match report, Andre Silva was a bit off this match. Disappointing because I'm really hoping he can be an inspiration for our offense alongside Ronaldo. Obviously we saw that Ronaldo is still the main man in that department.

    Otherwise I thought Danilo was decent in distribution and Nelson Semedo was lively down the right alongside Bernardo Silva. Gelson was disappointing again. He needs space to attack and there was none in this match. Quaresma was probably the most involved offensively but his crosses weren't their usual standard of quality. It was a tough match for anyone to play in because of the surface and the defensive tactics limiting space for our players.

    from United States
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  • Guest - Nelly

    I don’t know if it’s just me but when Gelson plays for Portugal he’s awful he offers nothing and try’s to force things. I would rather see Guedes or Bruma given a chance over him.

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  • Completely agree with you concerning Gelson. I'd rather give Guedes an opportunity than Gelson. Further, I had the impression, that with William - even when he only played 12 minutes - the appearance of Portugal changed a lot. I think he should take a more dominant role than he actually does. Now he is a class No. 6 with great distribution. He could move a bit more to the center of the pitch or even into the final third occasionally. If he had Pepe and Danilo as CB's behind him? Yes, I am also one of them who would like to see Danilo playing CB in the seleçao... Danilo's characteristics would increase the ability to build up vertical, physical pressure to the game, something that Pepe did when he was younger and more explosive. More freedom and authority for Williamw to get more out of his great vision and passing quality! Paired with fast attacking speed from players with a high workrate and excellent technical skills on the flanks it would probably add more danger in and around the opponents box. When Portugal is playing, they often fall into the scheme of stubborn attacking over the wings and crossing, crossing, crossing... but pressure in the center? ZERO! A pitty, because with with Bernardo Silva, a player is available to act in the overcrowded center to give the opponents defense some work to do, hold the ball, go into 1:1 on a beer mat. And over the wings, João Mario and Gonçalo Guedes are able to cross the ball into the back of the defense. Goals to be scored from Ronaldo and André Silva still - but please, their colleagues must produce more chaos in the opponents box, create more second balls, hell, create real danger. Somehow we need more options in the build up of the attacks to increase the danger level and I think that William will be the crucial part to get there. 76% possession is absolutely pointless if you don't score.

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  • Guest - Filipe

    Yesterday's game wasn't a huge surprise, Portugal is at their best playing a free flowing, counter attacking style of soccer. Over the years, the team has decimated clubs like Holland who like to open up and play with offensive flair. Against minnows, who play with 10 behind the balls, the space is limited thus taking away a ton of technical ability. Look at Gelson yesterday, his best attribute is his speed and technical ability with the ball. He literally had very little space to accomplish much at all. Looking at the goals scored, Ronaldo's predatory instincts were superb and Silva had good vision following that Danilo header. The Swiss will likely play a more open game but will also come in to play for the tie, I expect a much better Portuguese effort come Tuesday at home.

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"Singing the national anthem at the end was so beautiful - it was brutal. This communion is brutal. We will try to give more joy to the Portuguese people because they deserve it."

Fernando Santos
(Portugal coach in post-match press conference after win Switzerland)

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