Serbia 2-4 Portugal

The Seleção were triumphant in an unlikely high-scoring contest against Serbia in Belgrade tonight with Bernardo Silva and Ronaldo in amongst the goals.

William kick-started an otherwise dull match at the very end of the first half with a scrappy finish, and Portugal traded blows with Serbia until the end to wrestle back second place in Group B of qualification for Euro 2020. Guedes followed his Nations League final heroics with another goal, once again proving any detractors mistaken about the quality of his finishing. 

Fernando Santos, ever the unpredictable, selected Nations League final goalscorer Gonçalo Guedes ahead of João Félix to start while Danilo and William were again paired in midfield. Bernardo was pushed out to the wing opposite Guedes to accommodate Bruno Fernandes while Nélson Semedo was chosen ahead of João Cancelo again at right-back.

With such a high degree of significance for both side's hopes of qualification, the opening half was cagey to begin and remained tight through the half-time whistle.

Serbia revealed their predictable strategy of lying in wait for counterattacking opportunities and it was they who threatened first when Mitrovic was teed up by Lazovic after a cross from the left, but his shot was scuffed and allowed Patricio to gather with ease. 

Portugal strung together a nice series of passes in the 11th minute and initially Bernardo's pass from the right seemed to have found its way through to Ronaldo, but the Serbian defense regained their composure at the last minute to block his goalbound shot. 

The match then descended into a stalemate with Serbia remaining in two banks of four defenders and Portugal trying to loop in crosses from wide positions. Guedes blasted over a decent shooting opportunity following a free kick, then Ronaldo appeared to have badly mishit Bernardo Silva's cross in front of goal, but the play was whistled for offside. 

Serbia intermittently threatened on the counter. First, Kolarov sent an errant cross just past the frame of the goal with Patricio flapping then the former Manchester City fullback probably should have done better in the 38th minute when a cross from the right found him unmarked, but his shot drifted well wide of the left upright. 

William makes crucial breakthrough

Portugal had only created half-chances until minutes before halftime when they were rewarded for their persistence as Bruno Fernandes' cross was mishandled by Dmitrovic. The keeper's attempted punch was complicated by his own defender's untimely challenge and bounced into William's head. The Real Betis midfielder was able to turn in the rebound just when it appeared Portugal would have it all to do in the second half. 

Serbia were more insistent to begin the second half and Portugal nearly hit them on the counterattack when Ronaldo cut inside his marker and placed a curled effort just wide of the far post. Ronaldo went equally close minutes later with a free kick from 30 yards, the shot fizzing just wide and the keeper well-beaten. 

Portugal's passing game became more intricate as Serbia pushed harder for an equalizer. It paid dividends in the 58th minute when good combination play between Bruno Fernandes and Ronaldo set up Guedes. The Valencia winger beat one defender before lashing a shot from the left side of the penalty area into the top right corner to expand Portugal's lead. It was Guedes' second goal in as many matches for Portugal justifying his inclusion in the starting XI ahead of Félix.

Portugal's celebrations were somewhat dampened by the loss of Nélson Semedo to a serious looking leg injury after he clashed with Aleksei Kolarov and Cancelo was immediately introduced. 

The situation became more worrisome minutes later when Milenkovic escaped Danilo's marking and powered home a free header following a corner in the 68th minute. Adem Ljajic nearly scored the equalizer a minute later after a bad lateral pass from Danilo, but Patrício just tipped his ferocious effort over the bar. Santos exchanged Guedes for João Félix to help stem the tide. 

Portugal regained control and deadened the tempo with some crisp passing and good defending. Cristiano Ronaldo then sealed the win in the 80th minute when a perfectly weighted pass from Bernardo Silva put Ronaldo one-on-one against Dmitrovic. Cristiano easily defeated the Serbian keeper in that encounter to score his 89th international goal.

Fans streamed toward the exits, but Mitrovic showed that Serbia were not finished yet. He collected a good pass from Dusan Tadic and absolutely hammered a shot into the roof of the net to cut Portugal's lead. But the pendulum immediately swung once again as Portugal went straight back up the length of the pitch and scored their fourth of the night when Bernardo Silva expertly found the bottom right corner after receiving a pass from Raphael Guerreiro. 

Portugal shut down the hosts for the remaining minutes to claim a hugely important victory. Bruno Fernandes and especially Bernardo Silva were excellent, and Cristiano Ronaldo was again influential if not always intimately involved. Portugal's approach in the first half was pragmatic and generally unsuccessful in breaking down the Serbian resistance, and in the end it must be said that Dmitrovic's poor punch set the conditions for a very different second half in which five goals were scored between the two sides. 

William, as ever, was solid but his partner Danilo made several errors, one of which resulted in a Serbia goal which threatened to derail Portugal's momentum. Guedes deserves praise for scoring another crucial goal in a match where he generally contributed fairly little otherwise. 

The Seleção will travel to Lithuania on Tuesday while Serbia visit third-placed Luxembourg. Portugal face another difficult match against Ukraine next month in Kiev.

 

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício - Raphael Guerreiro, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, Nélson Semedo (Cancelo, 65') - William Carvalho, Danilo, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes (Moutinho, 85') - Gonçalo Guedes (Félix, 68'), Cristiano Ronaldo

Serbia XI: Dmitrovic, Milenkovic, Maksimovic, Nastasic, Kolarov - Matic, Milivojevic, Lazovic, Tadic, Kostic - Mitrovic

 

Goals:

[0-1] - William, 42'

[0-2] - Gonçalo Guedes, 58'

[1-2] - Milenkovic, 68'

[1-3] - Ronaldo, 80'

[2-3] - Mitrovic, 85'

[2-4] - Bernardo Silva, 86'

by Nathan Motz

Comments (11)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The first half was all possession without much penetration, but after the William goal, Serbia opened up and it became much easier to create clear cut chances.

I'm still not convinced with Guedes as a starter, but that's two straight games with...

The first half was all possession without much penetration, but after the William goal, Serbia opened up and it became much easier to create clear cut chances.

I'm still not convinced with Guedes as a starter, but that's two straight games with a goal from him.

Danilo and Fernandes were punished for individual mistakes. Overall we looked pretty solid defensively.

Bernardo, Ronaldo, and José Fonte were the standoubts in my opinion. João Felix also looked sharp during his 20 or so minutes.

Lithuania are a poor side, so if we play anywhere near our potential, we should be fine.

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Three points and onto the next one.

Portugal showed enough quality to win the game deservedly. The passing was crisp and slick for the most part, only the final pass was lacking a bit which comes as no surprise for those who have supported the...

Three points and onto the next one.

Portugal showed enough quality to win the game deservedly. The passing was crisp and slick for the most part, only the final pass was lacking a bit which comes as no surprise for those who have supported the team throughout the years. After taking a 2 goal lead.. we toned down the intensity, and goals were conceded which is fine.. never felt concerned at any moment. I wouldn't mind seeing the main suspects rested against Lithuania. The game will probably be wrapped up by half so it would be nice to see Ferro, Sanches, Felix, and Jota all get playing time.

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please start jota as the number 9 and play cr7 in his normal position in our next game

semedo showed nothing b.fernandes same

we played a very defence team, william always passes at the wrong time when hes in his own half of the field but...

please start jota as the number 9 and play cr7 in his normal position in our next game

semedo showed nothing b.fernandes same

we played a very defence team, william always passes at the wrong time when hes in his own half of the field but solid enough game.

jota for guedes please...

we need a number 9 fed up of having no one in the box, itw boring ...

play for the team not ronaldo please portugal

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Agree with most of you. I’d love to see the Wolves contingent brought in in place of Guedes (Jota), Fernandes (Moutinho) and Danilo (Neves). I think Guedes played fine - but, I’d like to see what jota can do with the team.

Also, I know...

Agree with most of you. I’d love to see the Wolves contingent brought in in place of Guedes (Jota), Fernandes (Moutinho) and Danilo (Neves). I think Guedes played fine - but, I’d like to see what jota can do with the team.

Also, I know Moutinho is not a young man anymore - and, would make sense to have a look at someone younger - but, he’s had a rebirth in the EPL. What a lovely player.

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Once again my boy WILLIAM with a dominant performance. Got the opener and had a all around great game.

Ppl on here got to stop saying Danilo is better. He got absolutely bodied on the first Serbia goal (corner kick).

Bernardo Silva MOTM,...

Once again my boy WILLIAM with a dominant performance. Got the opener and had a all around great game.

Ppl on here got to stop saying Danilo is better. He got absolutely bodied on the first Serbia goal (corner kick).

Bernardo Silva MOTM, slightly above William.

People on here saying we should rest players against Lithuania. Let’s just relax right there. We need to keep winning . We should play our best players but let’s give Felix a run out form the get go. Ronaldo needs to score more goals
to reach the 100 mark. He is at 89.

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Do my eyes deceive me????

Is that Z, the breaker of chains and personal gym records, COMPLIMENTING Bernardo Silva?

There is a disturbance in the force....

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Not bad for, how did you put it again Z...an "average player"...

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Needed victory. Don’t understand the hate on Guedes, my friends here don’t really fancy him either. I’ll put it simply, he can create his own shot and scores. For a team that struggles with the final pass this is valuable.

The William and...

Needed victory. Don’t understand the hate on Guedes, my friends here don’t really fancy him either. I’ll put it simply, he can create his own shot and scores. For a team that struggles with the final pass this is valuable.

The William and Danilo combo works again against a physical opponent.

Would love to see Renato get a run out against Lithuania

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I missed the first 20 minutes of the game. When I tuned in, I saw a dominant Serbian side (possession/chances) then at half time the stats came up and I saw Portugal had more possession so it must have been early. To be honest I was a little...

I missed the first 20 minutes of the game. When I tuned in, I saw a dominant Serbian side (possession/chances) then at half time the stats came up and I saw Portugal had more possession so it must have been early. To be honest I was a little afraid of their ability to break their wall. Then the second half came and I saw the game I had hoped for. Passing, creativity, patience, skill and drive. I was very pleased.
Bernardo was my MOTM from what I saw, he is tireless. Danilo hit and miss. Fonte was solid. He got better with age!
Guedes’s finish was superb! I hope Semedo will be okay.
What I also feel great about, for the first time ever, was that the bench is still potentially dangerous. Anyone could swap in and the integrity of the team would still be in tact.

Really looking forward to this Golden Generation (for real this time) lifting a World Cup trophy. The last piece for Ronald’s cabinet. He as worked like no other, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving.

Forca!

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Must admit i wasnt very happy when Fernando Santos was give the national team manager job but no doubt he has done an amazing job. Good chance for Portugal to win again at Euro 2020!

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Don't think they can win against top teams with that defense but I guess that's a subject for another day...

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