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.
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')
[0-1] Cristiano Ronaldo, 63'
[0-2] André Silva, 86'
by Nathan Motz