Portugal 0-0 Ukraine

Cristiano Ronaldo made his return but Portugal were ineffective in the first game of the UEFA European Championship Qualifying stage.

The Seleção dominated the game but couldn’t find a way through the Ukrainian defence as the quest to defend the European Championship begins.

The big news ahead of the game was the return of one Cristiano Ronaldo, making his first appearance since the World Cup. The Juventus man started alongside André Silva and Bernardo Silva in a front three.

Possible debutants Dyego Sousa, Diogo Jota and João Félix were all on the bench. Given the sparkling displays by all three this season, at the outset hu-bonusz.com punters would have been tempted to bet on them to score on their debuts. 

It was a slow start at the Estádio da Luz, 15 minutes had passed before either team had a chance. That chance fell to the home side, veteran Pepe doing well to fire a volley from outside the area that was stopped by Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

William nets... from offside position

The resulting corner led to Portugal putting the ball in the back of the net. Ukraine defended the corner but it the ball found its way to Rúben Neves, who delivered a cross that found William Carvalho free at the far post. The Real Betis midfielder finished easily but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.

Cristiano Ronaldo was, of course, a big focus this game. Ronaldo had two sights of goal from the left-hand side both well saved by Pyatov in a good five minute spell.

Despite considerable possession for Portugal they were being frustrated by the Ukranian defence. Fernando Santos elected not to make any substitutions at half-time and the second half continued from where Portugal had left off – in control of the ball and trying to find a solution.

André Silva had two chances early after the restart, the second of which forced an excellent save from Pyatov to keep the scores level.

Dyego Sousa debut

Fernando Santos made an attacking substitution in the 62nd minute bringing on Rafa Silva for Rúben Neves. However Portugal still struggled to create so Santos elected to give Dyego Sousa his first Portugal cap. The Brazilian-born Braga forward replaced André Silva with just under 20 minutes left to try and make an instant impact.

It didn’t look likely that Portugal could make the difference. Instead they had to suffer a late scare when Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine looked to steal the game in the closing minutes after creating little for much of the previous 85 minutes.

Rui Patrício, a spectator for much of the game, could only parry a long range Ukraine shot – the only Ukranian effort on target all night. The rebound almost fell nicely for Ukrainian debutant Júnior Moraes to finish but Rúben Dias made a crucial block to save the goalkeeper’s blushes.

Portugal tried to grab a late winner but still couldn’t break through the Ukranian defence. The visitors will be very happy to take a point back home with them whilst Portugal were frustrated all evening.

Although it is only the first of eight Euro 2020 qualifying matches, the disappointing display may have persuaded many at sk-bonus.com it was not a good idea to put money of the Seleção retaining their European Championship crown. 

There will need to be much more creativity and cohesion for when they return to the Luz on Monday to take on Serbia but although a point is disappointing at home there is a long, long way to go in the group stages yet.

By Richard Cole

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício; João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias. Raphael Guerreiro; Rúben Neves (Rafa Silva, 62’), João Moutinho (João Mário, 86’), William Carvalho; Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva (Dyego Sousa, 73’)

Ukraine XI: Andriy Pyatov; Oleksandr Karavaev, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Mykola Matviyenko, Vitaliy Mykolenko; Taras Stepanenko; Marlos (Viktor Tsyhankov, 66’), Ruslan Malinovskyi, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka (Vitaliy Buyalskiy, 87’); Roman Yaremchuk

 

Comments (22)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Everyone looked like they were afraid to shoot towards the end of the game. Bernardo Silva needs to pass earlier. Less touches on the ball. Hope they can get their attacking fluidity improved asap

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Nothing like a 0-0 soccer game.. So very entertaining

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A 4-3-3 with such a defensive midfield trio made it very difficult to create clear cut chances against such deep defence.
Bernardo Silva out wide simply doesn't work....

A 4-3-3 with such a defensive midfield trio made it very difficult to create clear cut chances against such deep defence.
Bernardo Silva out wide simply doesn't work. Andre Silva is in a poor run of form and it showed. João Felix is on fire and he is undeniably talented. Why not give him the start against Serbia?
Playing both Bernardo and Felix in their preferred positions however would require significant change in formation so I highly doubt Santos will be willing to give it a try. If he does decide to stick with the narrow 4-4-2, i'd like to see Rafa get the start.

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Congratulations to Ukraine, played well to their chances and team. This cant be said about Portugal, they were again inspirationless and disappointment. The main chance was the screamer of Pepe from the 16 yards box. Seriously was that just it......

Congratulations to Ukraine, played well to their chances and team. This cant be said about Portugal, they were again inspirationless and disappointment. The main chance was the screamer of Pepe from the 16 yards box. Seriously was that just it... Look individual at this players and their performance at the club. One for one excellent players and able to put a better performance in than this Numb football at the moment. We need to make some constructional changes to improve our attacking play. Our Defense is stable with Ruben Dias and more assets coming to come. We need to play more direct football and progressive what certainly can be managed with this quality currently. We cant step up the field with this mentality of crossing in crosses and hoping that somebody will process it in the net. This is what i call a little 'mentality gameplay'. Portugal has the opportunity to make an perfect mix with attacking and Atletico Madrid football. We should first of all assign an other manage. Santos has done a wonderful job but it is time to move forward of Euro 2016 and the historical performance. This may the last chance with Ronaldo. Where to begin with? Let say with the formation. Quit playing 4-3-3 we dont have the players for that. Our chances are with the midfield and attacking forwards like Diogo Jota, and the biggest prospect of all, Joao Felix. As for the partner of Ronaldo up front, we need somebody who has the ability to move past defenders and able to run himself in space. Andre Silva is more a like of Ronaldo and doesn't work. He is more of use when to make an equalizer. With a Benzema player next to him he will build more confidence and the team will get more options attacking wise I Opt for the following formation.
Cancelo- Dias - Pepe - Guerreiro

Carvalho

Neves Bruno Fernandes

CAM: Bernardo Silva!

Diogo Jota(Felix) - Ronaldo

Another mention about Ronaldo, i had hoped he would stay away a bit longer from the national team. Without him we have more momentum to build confidence in the squad and the find the suitable playing style to combine crosses with gallery play. I see such low confidence on the field, no high five no pressure on each other. Like a couple of scary chickens. Come Guys your fuckin European champions and lets give the crowd something worth supporting for. It is a discrage to play this football at home and not even trying to make the winning goal. Why the hell Joao Mario on the field when you need a goal god sake... this decision will sum up the game in substitute....

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Bernard should be playing centrally in front of William and Neves. Santos wastes him on flank. He's been fantastic centrally w City. I also wonder why Jota or Felix don't get a chance , they deserve it and could provide a spark.

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That was frustrating, but Ukraine parked the bus which means they are afraid which means we have an intimidating presence. Some great moves from Ronaldo and Bernardo but bad on the finishes.
The crosses into the box were desperate and not with...

That was frustrating, but Ukraine parked the bus which means they are afraid which means we have an intimidating presence. Some great moves from Ronaldo and Bernardo but bad on the finishes.
The crosses into the box were desperate and not with intention.
Cancels had a moment of brilliance but for the most part seemed out of place.
Does Santos not read our armchair general posts and know Bernardo needs to be centre?
I disagree that the team did not gel because of Ronaldo, they seemed fine in the back, just wonky up front. I do not trust Santos to experiment much further.

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Fernando Santos will go down as an absolute legend for what he accomplished in 2016, but it is becoming quite clear that he may not be the man we need to guide the next generation of Portuguese talent to new heights.

Santos' sides are always,...

Fernando Santos will go down as an absolute legend for what he accomplished in 2016, but it is becoming quite clear that he may not be the man we need to guide the next generation of Portuguese talent to new heights.

Santos' sides are always, tactically disciplined, well-organized defensive units that are tough to beat. His pragmatic brand of football makes us extremely difficult to beat, and he deserves a great deal of credit for instilling the winning mentality that the Portuguese national team has always lacked. Nevertheless, he seems to be completely incapable of devising a tactical scheme that gets the very best of his most creative players.

Bernardo Silva theoretically can operate on the right, but he needs to be given the freedom to operate in more central areas of the pitch when we are in possession. Today against the Ukrainians (and in most of his games for the Seleccao), he's been isolated out wide and has really struggled to stamp his authority in the final third, especially in between the lines in central areas where he is at his best. Bernardo is world-class for Manchester City because he plays for the most tactically astute attack-minded coach in world football; Pep's organized attack is tailor-made for players with Bernardo's characteristics. In Santos' 4-4-2, he looks like a square peg in a round hole.

Portugal's most creative & dynamic players are Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, and Joao Cancelo. If we are to make a serious case at retaining our European title, Santos is going to have to design a scheme that gets the very best of these four players. Otherwise, I fear we'll just see more of the same -- No movement, no ideas, no passing combinations ...just get the ball out wide and look to cross to Ronaldo and Andre Silva in the box..

I honestly do not think Fernando Santos has the tactical nous to get the best out of these aforementioned players. That being said, I still see us comfortably qualifying for the Euros. It won't be pretty. We'll probably scrape through with 3 or 4 draws and a handful of 1-0 wins, but we'll definitely qualify. I'm just concerned that Santos is holding us back.

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I agree with your post, you said a lot of what I am thinking. We need to get more out of the creative players, and drop the players who are duplication or ineffective like Neves who is fit for a deep counter attack team but limited in other...

I agree with your post, you said a lot of what I am thinking. We need to get more out of the creative players, and drop the players who are duplication or ineffective like Neves who is fit for a deep counter attack team but limited in other aspects. I don't think you can play the line up we had today, not dynamic enough or fast enough in the attacking 1/3.

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100% agree. After today's game, he looked like he was getting paid to play players that don't belong on the team. This is not the same coach who took Renato and other young players to Euro - he is bringing in a 29-year-old player who is not even...

100% agree. After today's game, he looked like he was getting paid to play players that don't belong on the team. This is not the same coach who took Renato and other young players to Euro - he is bringing in a 29-year-old player who is not even Portuguese. seriously.....

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I'm sure it would have been difficult to do but an exhibition game before this game would of made the difference.
Ronaldo was excellent..but we had problems ..they parked the bus and did not care how many corner kicks they gave up cause they were...

I'm sure it would have been difficult to do but an exhibition game before this game would of made the difference.
Ronaldo was excellent..but we had problems ..they parked the bus and did not care how many corner kicks they gave up cause they were better in the air...that was their game plan
Ukraine really wanted to avoid defeat...more so than to win the game

Portugal should be proud of their play...next game will be different

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Been saying it since post WC.. Santos has got to go. I've never seen a player as predictable as Bernardo Silva when playing on the wide right. He cuts in on his left foot 100% of the time. It's the most painful and obvious thing to watch. The...

Been saying it since post WC.. Santos has got to go. I've never seen a player as predictable as Bernardo Silva when playing on the wide right. He cuts in on his left foot 100% of the time. It's the most painful and obvious thing to watch. The opposing team is literally laughing at the challenge of guarding him and still Santos hasn't done a thing.

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Wrong selection for a team parking the bus. I have been supportive of Santos but he doesn't not seem to have a good handle on current mix of players. When I saw the line up, I knew we would have trouble scoring.

1) Ruben Neves what does he...

Wrong selection for a team parking the bus. I have been supportive of Santos but he doesn't not seem to have a good handle on current mix of players. When I saw the line up, I knew we would have trouble scoring.

1) Ruben Neves what does he bring? He is clumsy in defense (see his yellow cards in EPL and his horrible challenge against Hazard as data points) not very fast , his only value is playing long passes and an occasional rocket shot, a waste playing against deep lying teams. In fact I argue you can't play William and Neves together. You can get the same attributes these two bring in a DM role and play Danilo. Open up spots for more offensive and creative players with speed.
2) When we needed a magical pass and energy at the end of the game, J Mario is the best we have? Where was our super sub RQ7. Or one of our young options.
3. B Silva needs to play more in the middle and Andre Silva is out of form, he needs to sit. If you play Andre Silva as least play more creative players behind him (see point #1).
4. We think we have quality depth which means many good players to fill roles but where are the world class game changers or that extra cutting edge. Too much of the same ilk is not good, you need to get our best players on the field and optimize them. Santos is struggling with this mix, we need more speed in midfield and up front, we need better balance.

We'll see if Santos makes the changes required or he will soon be in the hot seat for not finding the right mix and optimizing the talents of the players.

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