Lithuania 1-5 Portugal
In the first-ever competitive meeting between the two sides, Portugal overcame some early deficiencies to put five past the hosts at the Vetra Stadium tonight. Portugal were lethargic from the onset, but after an error by the Lithuanian keeper the visitors went into cruise control. In characteristic fashion, Ronaldo struggled initially then scored four goals to take his tally to 93 for the Seleção.
Bernardo Silva notched two more assists and William once again wound up on the scoresheet for the fourth time in his Portugal career.
Fernando Santos made three changes to the side which defeated Serbia on Saturday with Cancelo returning to the starting XI in place of the injured Semedo, Neves slotting in alongside William, and João Félix chosen to partner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lithuania, to their credit, were the first to create danger when lackadaisical defending from Portugal allowed the hosts to work the ball down the right wing. Slivka was first to reach the ensuing cross, but he fluffed his lines despite being well-positioned on the edge of the six-yard box.
But the breakthrough came early on for Portugal following good play between João Félix and Ronaldo. The referee spotted a potential handball interfering with the Atletico Madrid man's cross inside the area, and Cristiano Ronaldo easily dispatched the spot kick, his 90th goal for the Seleção.
João Félix then combined well with Cancelo down the right and the Manchester City fullback's cross was nearly turned in for an own goal with Setkus intervening with a good reaction save.
Ronaldo tested the keeper again with a speculative shot from the right channel in the 23rd minute. Lithuania, meanwhile, exploited the rather open midfield to create opportunities on the counter.
Lithuania hit back
Fonte was required to intervene at the last moment to deny Laukzemis an easy goal in the 27th minute, and Lithuania were rewarded on the ensuing corner. Andriuskevicius rose highest to meet the corner as Portugal's set-piece defence was again found lacking.
Setkus swatted down a Cancelo shot from the right as Portugal attempted to hit back quickly, but the Seleção lacked a focal point with both Ronaldo and Félix attempting to drop deep at inopportune moments.
Félix worked Setkus again with a sumptuous effort from just outside the penalty area, but the final ball and finishing touch was clearly absent. Bruno Fernandes found Félix with a wonderful ball from midfield, but the young forward's attempt was well-saved by the Lithuanian keeper, who was having a very good game in his own right.
Very slack defending allowed Lithuania another effort on goal, but the connection was poor and Patrício smothered the danger. The game remained surprisingly open and Bruno Fernandes was next to try his luck but the shot was blasted well over the bar, and the sides went into the half all square.
João Félix placed a great chance just wide after a mishit Ronaldo shot deflected into his path in the 50th minute. Santos had seen enough five minutes before the hour mark and introduced Rafa Silva for Bruno Fernandes.
The break was on for Ronaldo minutes later but the chance was badly wasted as Bernardo Silva's eventual shot was weak and straight at the keeper. But in very odd fashion, the Lithuanian goalkeeper gifted Portugal a goal when he completely mishandled a scuffed Ronaldo effort. It was a strange occurrence as the keeper, and Lithuania as a unit, had being playing extremely well.
Minutes later Ronaldo finished the job with a close range finish after he beat the offside trap and got on the end of Bernardo Silva's cross, his and Portugal's third of the night.
Ronaldo hits four
Félix nearly added to Portugal's lead minutes later as the nature of the match shifted and became about damage control for the hosts and higher goal differential for Portugal. But Ronaldo scored yet again in the 76th minute, demonstrating a far better finishing touch when he swept Bernardo Silva's pass into the bottom right corner from the left side of the penalty area.
Guerreiro nearly added a fifth in stoppage time, but it was William who ended up stealing those honours when he nabbed another scrappy finish after a poor clearance by the Lithuanian defence.
It was a strange match as Lithuania had been unexpectedly good save for the dubious first half penalty and the egregious error by Setkus which completely killed the competitive nature of the game. Ronaldo's four goals disguised some uncharacteristically poor touches from the Portugal captain, but also underscored his persistence to right the wrongs he makes during a match by scoring goals.
The intensity from Portugal was poor in the first half, and the entire side seemed to be lacking inspiration. More concerning was the lack of industry on defence with gaping holes left for Lithuania to exploit on several occasions leaving Portugal to thank the hosts for their poor finishing. Even so, Portugal racked up 14 attempts on target from 31 total shots, dominated possession, and probably should have scored several more times.
João Félix had his moments but could not find the right finish to beat Setkus. José Fonte was imperious at the back, but it must be said Portugal's set-piece defence needs improvement. William scored his second goal in as many matches, revealing his newfound desire to find his way into the penalty area at opportune moments.
Portugal will next host Luxembourg on October 11th before traveling to Kiev three days later to meet first-placed Ukraine.
Portugal XI: Rui Patrício - Raphael Guerreiro, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, João Cancelo - William Carvalho, Rúben Neves, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes (Rafa Silva, 56') - João Félix, Cristiano Ronaldo (Guedes, 79')
Lithuania XI: Setkus - S. Mikoliunas, M. Palionis, E. Girdvainis, V. Andriuskevicius - D. Simkus, V. Slivka, M. Vorobjovas, M. Kuklys (Zulpa, 69'), O. Verbickas (Kazlauskas, 77') - K. Laukzemis (Petravicius, 66')
[0-1] - Cristiano Ronaldo (PK), 6'
[1-1] - Andriuskevicius, 28'
[1-2] - Cristiano Ronaldo, 62'
[1-3] - Cristiano Ronaldo, 65'
[1-4] - Cristiano Ronaldo, 76'
[1-5] - William, 90'
by Nathan Motz