Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

Portugal booked their place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia with a 2-0 victory over Switzerland, leapfrogging their opponents in a winner-takes-all tie in Group B.

In another inspiring night for Portuguese football, the Seleção took the lead late on in the first-half through Johan Djourou's own goal, as Portugal moved into top-spot by half-time.

André Silva would seal Portugal's place in next summer's main event with the night's second goal, concluding a near-perfect qualification campaign that saw the European champions amass nine wins from ten games.

 

Birthday boy Fernando Santos reinforced his line-up with a host of big names, headlined by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal's quest to conquer Switzerland at a packed Estadio da Luz.

The hosts started on top and were given their first early sighting of Yann Sommer's goal through André Silva's deflected effort into the keeper's grasp, as the Swiss matched Portugal's intensity in a hard-fought, yet fruitless 30 minutes of play.

Bernardo Silva made the home crowd dream in the 32nd minute after the ball fell to his feet via a neat Moutinho touch following forceful play from Ronaldo on the edge of the box. The ex Monaco star set himself for a powerful half-volley from the left-hand side of the area that Sommer did well to tip over the bar.

Good chemistry

The clever combination play between Bernardo and Moutinho - long-time club teammates until the former's switch to Manchester City ahead of this season - was a feature of the match throughout.

Portugal's breakthrough would soon come, however, courtesy of Johan Djourou's misfortunes. Veteran full-back Eliseu made full use of his time in the final third when whipping a near-post cross into João Mário, with the Benfica's man's ball squeezing past both his teammate and the goalkeeper before the helpless Djourou eased the ball into his own net in the 41st minute.


Match reaction: "We'll go to World Cup with ambition of winning it" - Bernardo Silva


With little time for a response from 'La Nati', Santos' men held onto their slender lead before the referee's whistle for half-time, as the two nations emerged unchanged for the second period.

In the second half Portugal showed they had no intention of sitting on their lead, looking to up the pace, but it would be Switzerland who'd debut with the first shot on target on this occasion, as Rui Patrício followed the trajectory of Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick into his clutches.

Bernardo Silva handed Ronaldo his first smell of goal in the 55th minute, as the Real Madrid talisman took the pass infield onto his left foot before firing his effort someway wide of the target.

Silvas combine

The key remained with the new Manchester City signing, however, as a lovely Portugal move resulted in Bernardo finding space inside Switzerland's area to coolly feed André Silva at the back-post. The AC Milan striker was left free to double Portugal's lead with a tap-in in the 56th minute, edging the Seleção das Quinas closer to World Cup qualification.

Far from over, the Swiss came incredibly close to pulling a goal back in the 69th minute through Haris Seferovic, as Shaqiri's fierce shot was deflected wide of Patrício's far-post by the Benfica forward's outstretched leg.

A pair of changes for the visitors did little to shake up their fortunes, as Ronaldo neared Portugal's killer blow from Cédric Soares' cross before arriving marginally late in his attempt to guide an effort towards goal in the 75th minute.

Pepe was next in line with a tame effort on the turn from a corner, whereas Portugal's captain would again look to ink his name on the scoresheet before being dispossessed one-on-one by Sommer in the 79th minute.

Cutting in and out, Bernardo Silva threatened to land yet more goal action into stoppage time before hitting a shot wide, with two goals being more than enough to see Portugal over the line at full-time.

by Patrick Ribeiro

 

Portugal: Rui Patrício - Cédric Soares, Pepe, José Fonte, Eliseu (Vitorino Antunes, 67') - Bernardo Silva, William Carvalho, João Moutinho, João Mário (Danilo Pereira, 90') - André Silva (André Gomes, 77'), Cristiano Ronaldo

Switzerland: Yann Sommer - Stephen Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schär, Johan Djourou, Ricardo Rodriguez - Granit Xhaka, Remo Freuler, Blerim Džemaili (Steven Zuber, 66') - Xherdan Shaqiri, Haris Seferovic, Admir Mehmedi (Breel Embolo, 66')

Goals:

[1-0] Johan Djourou O.G., 41'

[2-0] André Silva, 56'

 

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Overall Rating (2)

5 out of 5 stars

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  • Totally agree. In my opinion the Swiss side looked weak because Portugal was strong. It could have been more difficult if the Swiss would have parked the bus. The Portugal midfield was indeed impressive. Full control over 90% of playing time. And the 2:0 was a sheer beauty: Fast and accurate passing, perfect positioning and finally the ball in the net. More than the half team was involved, it was a joy to watch. MOTM was William for me too. He has proven again that he needs to get more influence in offensive play. Therefore I repeat myself and also call for Danilo as CB option in the National Team. When in possession, Danilo could move out of the defense and the formation changes into a 352, with William as the playmaker - Our team will be able to create a lot of danger. I have no doubt that the team sheet will include a couple of alterations in Russia, but the CB-issue has to be solved.

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  • I am delighted I'll be in the Nautico Bar in Povoa and the Estrella in Vauxhall to watch the Seleccao in June and hopefully July. But I agree with Jon/USA that this was vintage Fernando Santos and not vintage Portuguese foootball. Once again, Santos made a decent side look poor whilst making what could be a very good Portuguese side look just OK. It was pretty much the same strategy in France 2016 and with much good fortune Portugal won that trophy. In the 14 months and nine games since then, Santos doesn't seem to have decided on his best side and is still picking teams that negate the threat from his opponents. If Portugal really aspire to get to the final 8 in Russia they need to cut loose and impose their game upon the opposition. And the younger generation need to step up to international level. William had a good game tonight as did Bernardo. But all they did was play well at international level and we must expect this from them in every game. Joao Mario continues to flatter to deceive and the weight of creative responsibly in midfield still lies with Joao Moutinho. As to the forwards, Andre Silva spent much of his time marking the centre half and tried to bungle the simplest of chances when scoring the second goal. Let's be frank here: why don''t we reconcile ourselves to the fact that starting with Bernardo on one flank, CR7 in the middle and RQ20 sticking crosses on his head from the other would be much more productive - not to mention exciting. In fact, productive AND exciting is surely what we expect from the European Champions.

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  • Guest - SupremoGino

    Also, meant to mention. As Justin/Rochester also desires, is to seeing Portugal be more adventurous. I think our problem with slower center backs is holding them back. That's why if he can get a younger, adequate replacement for Fonte (who we saw was chased down and dispossessed early in the match) we will have someone to cover a lot more ground and with William providing the extra layer.. our creative mids can press a lot deeper to help retain possession. As anyone watched this match can see.. Portugal struggled to apply reasonable pressure on the opponents end and retain the ball early in the game probably because of the vulnerabilities that would be left at the back . P.S I'll mention it again. Sad to see how quick Ronaldo's pace has diminished. That one on one was depressing. He's just 32 and still think he can go until 40? I remember watching Figo at 36 running faster at Inter. I think someone mentioned his added muscle mass as the explanation for it but he's going to have to slim down or I can't see him going longer than a couple more years.

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  • Guest - Danny

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Where do i begin? lichtsteiner is a little rat and should of seen a red card his antics would of gotten Portugal off there game in the past but The Seleção stayed focused and completed the dask on hand...Ref did no favors for Portugal today. at the World Cup against a team like Germany you know Portugal will always be on the wrong side of the gray area of the rules but if they play like today our eleven will beat there twelve
    Fernando Santos the man who instills clam,trust and pride in his players...this man truly believes in what his players can do.His pragmatic approach to the game is why the Seleção are flourishing in his lustrous rein "the engineer"
    IN SANTOS WE TRUST!
    Joao Mario clearly played the best game for Portugal ever,the hunger and skill was a joy to watch
    William the beast was MOTM for me,the guy is so intelligent with or without the ball...kinda feel sorry for his opponents on days like today
    Bernardo Silva needed a solid display today and he did just that,creative force going forward is priceless and Portugal have that with Silva

    Eliseu is Portugal's soft spot lucky Portugal have World Class ralph guerreiro and Nelson S. to feel that void in Russia

    Mundial VAMOOOOS!

    from Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Some stats to put this into perspective, since Andre Silva is (baffling) still getting criticism. I only included out and out strikers.
    GP (goals)

    Eusebio - 64 (41)
    Pauleta - 88 (47)
    Nuno Gomes - 79 (29)
    Hugo Almeida - 59 (19)
    Andre Silva - 17 (11)

    Not bad kid, keep it up! He is 21, come on, really?


    Qualification stats in comparison. Because Portugal still get hammered for the myth of not scoring enough or not entertaining enough...
    Portugal - Wins 9, Lose 1, +28 Goal Difference
    France - Wins 7, Lose 1, +12 Goal Difference
    Germany - Wins 10, lose 0, +39 Goal Difference
    Serbia - Wins 6, Lose 1, +10 Goal Difference
    Poland - Wins 8, Lose 1, +14 Goal Difference
    England - Wins 8, Lose 0, +15 Goal Difference
    Spain - Wins 9, Lose 0, +33 Goal Difference
    Belgium - Wins 9, Lose 1, +37 Goal Difference

    I think Justin and Supremo touched on some important things as well. The mobility of the CB's is a problem but Fernando is smart, he gets the team to play as a team. Really curious how the squad will look in Russia. Forca Portugal! Coming through in so many important games is huge.

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Forgot one;

    Helder Postiga - 71 (27)

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Guest - George

    Honestly I read some of these comments and just LOL sometimes. It leaves me wondering if I seen the same match as everyone else.

    William, Bernardo, and Joao Mario were absolutely outstanding today. All 3 of them put in world-class performances and Bernardo/Joao Mario, in particular, I thought played their best games in Portugal shirt. I've been waiting a while to see our 2015 U21 midfield trio dominate like they did 2 years ago, and today, I finally did.

    Joao Mario deserves much more praise than what he's been getting so far. In fact, he's my MOTM by a country mile (and with performances like today, that's saying something). Our 1st goal? Ruled an OG, but, let's face it - Joao Mario created the chaos in the first place. If he doesn't chase after that, it doesn't go in. And if it doesn't go in, we might not be in Russia right now. BUT, it wasn't just that goal - he was all over the place today. He was calm, cool, and collected in possession, and he drove forward every opportunity he got. On another night, he could've easily scored a hat-trick as I counted at least 5 times where he put himself in a position to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper... but no one found him with a pass. He even shouted down Rui Patricio at one point for not springing him on a counter! That might not seem like a big deal to others, but to me? It showed that Joao Mario is now starting to lead as well. I've gotten used to seeing a determined, hungry captain on the pitch for 90 minutes, barking at his teammates to attack and take it to the opposition, but, today I saw more than one. And I couldn't be more excited.

    Speaking of captains - I disagree that Cristiano had a poor game. Now, did he have much of an impact? No. But there's a big difference between that and being outright poor. I mean, come on now - are we seriously expecting him to score in every game? The crosses were absolutely horrendous today! The only one that was half-decent found its way into the net. That should tell you all you need to know about what he might've done had Cedric not forgotten his compass at home. Also, as per usual, every time he got the ball, he was surrounded by 3 or 4 players. Tell me, if that Ricardo Rodriguez handball penalty was given - as it should've been - and Ronaldo scored, would you still say he had a poor game? Maybe you can criticize him for not passing to Joao Mario for a 3rd when he was virtually alone with the keeper, but, Sommer came out quickly to cut out the threat. I'm not about to blame him for a lack of pace on that play. I honestly think he played fine, he just needed some more service. Come on guys, let's not turn into Real Madrid fans demanding that he score in every match and not make any mistakes, lol.

    That note applies to Andre Silva too. The kid's got a lot to learn still, but, he's still a kid in footballing terms. A kid who, despite his youth and inexperience, manages to score in every couple of games... Is it just me, or, is that a good problem to have if your Andre Silva and Portugal? I, again, couldn't be more excited to see him develop!

    These are exciting times my friends! We're in the World Cup, and, in all honesty, I fear no one. Not Germany, not Spain, not Brazil, not Argentina.... Not. A. One. I see vulnerabilities in all of those teams, and, if Santos takes the time to experiment in these next few months, and finds a way to plug our holes with a few new players... I honestly think we've got a shot...

    On a personal note, I'd just like to thank Tom, Nathan and everyone on Portugoal for all the hard work and doing what you do. It makes following the Selecao that much more enjoyable. I mean, come on, where else can I argue that Portugal would smash the USA if drawn in the same group again in Russia, and actually get blowback from people..?! LOL! I know, I know - no one likes a gloater, but, there are just certain times where you feel justified in saying "I told you so". And... this is one of those times.

    So *clears throat* : To all my American friends on Portugoal who felt the need to get on my back after ranting about Portugal, groups of death, and, more specifically, that game in the Amazon against the USA at WC 2014 (you guys know who are)... enjoy your summer. Your team was mediocre and overhyped back then, and now, you're a damn dumpster fire missing out on the tournament ENTIRELY. I'll repeat what I said before: Had Portugal been healthy, and, had the game been in a cooler climate, you would've lost, eventually crashing out of the group in the process. No, these are not "excuses" as you put it. These are facts. The proof is in today's pudding... Your team isn't as good as the geniuses over at ESPN FC would lead you to believe.

    I. Told. You. So.

    Take Care everyone, it's been a blast following qualifying with you. Oh, and to any other American who joins us on Portugoal - I feel your pain. Missing out on the World Cup sucks, but, it could be the best thing to ever happen to your program. In time, I too, believe that you will win. Just stop believing your own damn hype would ya?! lol!

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  • Thanks George. Very kind. I have to say it's a privilege to report on Portuguese football and the Portuguese national team. So much quality and excitement. I've got a feeling more to come next summer too. Força Seleção.

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    Fantastic result for us to cruise into the world cup! As I thought, we would be too strong for Switzerland in our own backyard and that Fernando Santos would have a good tactical plan for getting the win we needed. Switzerland are a good side, but I knew they weren't that good a side to go through 10 qualifying matches without a single blip. Congrats to the Swiss for pushing us all the way to the finishing line, but clearly the better team won the group in the end.

    Congrats to Santos for how superbly he's done for the selecao, amazing he still gets criticized! Unlike his predecessors, he has constantly used a large pool of talented players we have available and hasn't been afraid to make selection changes when necessary. This bold approach has really paid off with the results. We finally have a proper CF in Andre Silva! Outstanding scoring record in these qualifiers and what a partnership he's struck up with Cristiano. Scoring goals doesn't look like its gonna continue being a problem for us like it was in the past. Bernardo is really starting to make his mark with the selecao and he's the most creative midfielder we have had since the days of Deco and Rui Costa. As for Eliseu ("Mr garbage player who should be nowhere near the national team"!!): what an outstanding ball into the box to set up the all important breakthrough goal!

    Great feeling qualifying directly and knowing we'll be part of the party in Russia next summer. We're gonna be seeded too which should, in theory, ensure we avoid most of the big guns in the group phase. At the same time though, with this group of players and with this coach, I don't fear playing anyone and Portugal at their best can beat any team in the world. I think we'll go into the tournament with a decent chance of winning it, but without the pressure of being one of the main favorites.

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  • Guest - Paulo

    For me what was most telling over the past week or so's preparations was the air force plane used to travel to Andorra to cut out a total of 6 hours' travel time (never mind the fatigue it induces).
    Portugal management teams of the past would not have gone to such great lengths... preparation is key and Portugal did their homework on and off the pitch!
    Parabens!

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Fernando Santos
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