Ukraine 2-1 Portugal 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 700th goal of his illustrious career and registered nine total shots by himself, but Portugal were made to pay for incoherent build-up and failing to break down the organized hosts for long stretches. Ukrainian keeper Andriy Pyatov made nine saves in a wonderful performance. 

Andriy Yarmolenko capitalized on poor defending in the first half to put the hosts up 2-0 after an early goal by Yarmechuck and Andriy Shevchenko's side became the fifth to qualify for Euro 2020 in front of an adoring home crowd in Kiev.

True to form, Fernando Santos shocked the Portuguese fanbase by selecting longtime absentee João Mário in the starting XI at the expense of Bruno Fernandes, who has struggled to reach his potential for the Seleção. João Félix also paid for failing to capitalize on his opportunities during the match against Luxembourg with Guedes stepping in to complete the forward trident alongside Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Ukraine were unbeaten in five matches, scoring 11 goals and allowing none in return and it was they who threatened first when Yaremchuk found enough space to sneak in a low shot which Patricío gathered well. 

Hosts take commanding lead

Ronaldo got forward down the right minutes later but his cross was too close to Pyatov. The hosts looked comfortable though, and they were ahead in the 6th minute following a corner kick. Marlos' delivery was spot on and Krivtsov's header was brilliantly saved at point blank range by Patricío, but the rebound was easily tucked away by Yaremchuk.

Ukraine maintained confident control of the match over the next twenty minutes while Portugal struggled to regain a foothold. Just as Portugal were finding their way back into the match however, Ukraine hit them again when Yarmolenko's angled run had him perfectly positioned to sweep home Mykolenko's wonderful cross from the left wing. Replays showed Raphael Guerreiro caught napping at the back as Yarmolenko streaked past him into the penalty area. 

Portugal nearly cut the deficit just two minutes later when Ronaldo teed up João Mário perfectly at the edge of the 18 yard box, but Pyatov did well to parry his gdalbound shot wide of the left upright. Danilo then had a decent chance to test the keeper following the corner kick but he tried for too much power and skewed his shot well over the crossbar. 

Bernardo Silva found just a yard of space to shoot in the 33rd minute, but his angle was poor and the shot was easily collected by Pyatov. The well-organized hosts allowed possession and even some half chances, but Portugal clearly lacked inspiration in the attacking third. 

Cristiano Ronaldo continued to look lively and rifled a shot just over the bar after Portugal's high press forced a turnover in the 42nd minute. An ill-timed intervention by Pepe allowed a three-on-two at the back but Portugal were spared further punishment by Yarmolenko's poor finish just minutes before the half, and the hosts were forced to settle for their two goal advantage.

João Félix was immediately introduced to start the second half, and Ronaldo nearly began the comeback  in the 49th minute with a swerving free kick that Pyatov awkwardly scooped up into the air. Ronaldo continued his assault on the Ukrainian and had another shot parried just wide minutes later after wriggling free of several defenders down the left channel. 

The momentum was in Portugal's favor now, but the host's resolve remained intact and the match was surprisingly open considering Ukraine needed only a draw to qualify for the tournament proper. 

Bruno Fernandes missed a glorious chance to cut the lead in the 66th minute when Bernardo Silva found him unmarked with a delicious cross from the right wing, but the Sporting playmaker's headed finish was well wide in the end. 

Portugal halve the deficit

Bruma was thrown into the fray, but Ukraine nearly scored the next goal when Konoplyanka was sent clean through only for Pepe to turn back the years and put in a successful last-gasp challenge. Portugal's fortune then immediately changed as Stepanenko blocked a shot from Bruma with his arm.

The referee pointed to the spot after some deliberation and gave Stepanenko his second yellow with nearly 20 minutes still to play. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up nonchalantly to score his 700th career goal for club and country. 

Ronaldo kept the pressure on, getting clear down the right channel and testing Pyatov with an off-balance attempt at his near post. But Ukraine responded with composure and deadened the tempo of the match with good spells of possession. 

Portugal's captain was very unlucky not to score again in stoppage time when his header was brilliantly denied by Pyatov. Danilo then struck the angle of post and bar as the drama built to a crescendo.

But Ukraine completed their victory to quality for Euro 2020. Despite Cristiano Ronaldo's willing contribution, Santos' squad selection will certainly come under review and the cohesion of matches prior was distinctly missing. Though the statistics may show Portugal had the better of the match, Ukraine were deserved victors and should be commended for taking advantage of slack defending and lethargic attacking play from Portugal.

Nelson Semedo and Danilo also put in good performances with the latter nearly stealing a point at the death with a rocket, but the result was fair and Portugal will be required to wait until next month to book their own ticket to Euro 2020.

The Seleção will play Lithuania and Luxembourg to close out qualification. 

 

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício - Raphael Guerreiro, Rúben Dias, Pepe, Nelson Semedo - Danilo, João Moutinho (Bruno Fernandes, 56'), João Mário (Bruma, 68') - Bernardo Silva, Gonçalo Guedes (Félix, 46'), Cristiano Ronaldo 

Ukraine XI: Pyatov - Karavaev, Krivtsov, Matviyenko, Mykolenko (Plastun) - Stepananenko, Yarmolenko, Zinchenko, Malinovsky, Marlos (Konoplyanka) - Yaremchuk (Kovalenko)

Goals:

[1-0] - Yaremchuk, 6'

[2-0] - Yarmolenko, 27'

[2-1] - Cristiano Ronaldo (PK), 72'

by Nathan Motz

Comments (39)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Ok we have all these wonderful young players and what does this coach start? Moutinho - Joao Mario - what serious? What was Fernandes thinking. And what the hell happened to Rafael? And for one game can one of our outside backs actually put in a...

Ok we have all these wonderful young players and what does this coach start? Moutinho - Joao Mario - what serious? What was Fernandes thinking. And what the hell happened to Rafael? And for one game can one of our outside backs actually put in a good cross? We where losing 2-1, they where down one man and they played keep away? WHAT.

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That loss was entirely on Santos. He was correct in dropping Felix and Fernandes but replaced them with terrible options. Why on earth would you play João Mário who hasn’t been called up in ages. The guy is beyond average but he’s one of Santos’...

That loss was entirely on Santos. He was correct in dropping Felix and Fernandes but replaced them with terrible options. Why on earth would you play João Mário who hasn’t been called up in ages. The guy is beyond average but he’s one of Santos’ favorites so of course he played him. Should have been Rúben Neves to give the midfield more muscle. We’ve been playing with 2 dms all qualifying and it’s been working and yet this is when Santos decides to mess around.

Guerreiro has been playing Left back for Dortmund so I don’t get why he’s still so bad at defending. He looked like an amateur.

We played in a 433 and had no strikers on the field. This game was perfect for Andre silva. He would have stayed in the box and allowed space for Ronaldo. The guy didn’t get a single minute on the field.

Santos Subs were even worse. He saw enough of both Felix and Fernandes to drop them so why de he sub them on? Both were predictably invisible especially Felix who played like he couldn’t give a rats ass.

Thankfully we still only depend on ourselves. I just hope that coming in second won’t affect which pot we go into.

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Overall a difficult game with the travel and short time between games. No excuses as lackluster first half with some school ground defending resulted in chasing the game.

Questionable starting line up but this is not on Santos, poor performance...

Overall a difficult game with the travel and short time between games. No excuses as lackluster first half with some school ground defending resulted in chasing the game.

Questionable starting line up but this is not on Santos, poor performance forces the hand. Santos has given these players who didn't start a chance, they have failed with opportunities presented by not making an impact and need to be held accountable.

A few players need to be called out for poor performance and lack of concentration. Guerreiro once again proves he is a horrible defender just like in the WC horrible positional awareness and too naive on defense. We have abundance of riches at RB, we should move Ricardo to this spot. Danilo for the second time in last few games failed to mark his player on a set piece. Overall a complete team lack of discipline and concentration on set pieces and simple counterattacks cost us.

On the positive a few players shined like Bruma who gave us pace and energy. Bruno Fernandez maybe is better suited to be a sub, jury is still out on him. This is very simple focus and win the next two games to get in, work to fix the issues for the tournament as there is time to right the ship.

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Where to start.

Not the result we were hoping for but it wasn't a result we needed. We are still in the driver's seat with 2 comfortable games left (Luxemberg and Lithuania).

There were obviously a few brain cramp moments in the game (none...

Where to start.

Not the result we were hoping for but it wasn't a result we needed. We are still in the driver's seat with 2 comfortable games left (Luxemberg and Lithuania).

There were obviously a few brain cramp moments in the game (none bigger than Guerreiro - who actually played well besides that moment). Give the Ukraine formations and counter attack credit though. We just couldn't penetrate and it was not an anomaly given how many goals Ukraine have allowed in the qualifiers.

A few fans crap on Guedes on this site, but I hope today's game demonstrates the difference between a ball possession player who can score and Felix who is effectively Ronaldo's shadow during the game (he may have touched the ball 4 seconds, denied Bernardo a clear goal, not too mention two offsides). He is young and will mature into a solid player but his place is not guaranteed in this line-up.

Once Guedes came off the pitch our attack was limited to the right side of the pitch (until Bruma came into the game). Bruno, Semedo and Bernardo did well, creating many chances.

Like I said, this was not a result we needed so Stay Calm and Have a Bifana.

Peace.

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Portugal were crap from start to end, we could've nicked a draw. It's true Ukraine scored from our two errors and aside form that didn't do much but Portugal just played so bad when it came to attack it was hopeless. No way Portugal came to win...

Portugal were crap from start to end, we could've nicked a draw. It's true Ukraine scored from our two errors and aside form that didn't do much but Portugal just played so bad when it came to attack it was hopeless. No way Portugal came to win and it showed they must've come for a draw at best because when they went down 1-0 and eventually 2-0 Portugal looked like they had no plan B.

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When you play in a 4-3-3 you need an actual striker. What does Portugal do? They play with a bunch of wingers instead and then wonder why the formation is out of wack. Stupidity all around from Santos

William is such a crucial piece to this...

When you play in a 4-3-3 you need an actual striker. What does Portugal do? They play with a bunch of wingers instead and then wonder why the formation is out of wack. Stupidity all around from Santos

William is such a crucial piece to this team. I’ve wanted Félix and Bruno to play for so long. What massive disappointments they’re turning out to be.

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A real let down of a result in a match i was very confident of winning. Santos got it all wrong, and I can't believe what he was thinking with some of those decisions. João Mario starting in such an important match? The most passive player ever,...

A real let down of a result in a match i was very confident of winning. Santos got it all wrong, and I can't believe what he was thinking with some of those decisions. João Mario starting in such an important match? The most passive player ever, starting in a match in which we needed high intensity? Crazy! With the talent we have in CM these days, João Mario shouldn't even be making the squad, let alone the starting 11. I can't believe how, with all the CM options we have available, that Santos thought the best CM combination for this match was Danilo, Moutinho and João Mario! Bruno Fernandes played the best game I've seen him play yet for the Selecao the other night, and then gets dropped for this one. Why was Renato Sanches not even called up? We need more power and intensity in the middle and he's the perfect player to provide that.

Then in the second half, we badly needed more presence in the box as Ukraine packed the defense...we have a proper number 9 on the bench in André Silva, and he doesn't come on at all. What was the point of even calling him up at all then? Look, as good as Santos has done for us since taking charge, one definite criticism of him is not going for it enough and being over-cautious a lot of the time, and this was all too evident again tonight.

We are surely still going to qualify, as we just need another 3 points from our last two games against Lithuania and Luxembourg to confirm it....but I wanted to qualify in style in first place, as we are by far and away the strongest team in this group. But as usual we are making unnecessary harder work of qualifying than we should, some things never change lol! I'm thankful for the trophies Santos has brought us...but I just wish he would be bolder and go for it a lot more. We have the abundance of talent available to be able to do so, and there's no excuse not to be playing more pro-actively with this generation of players we have.

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I have not posted here in a while,I was very surprised with the lineup myself, Moutinho and Joao Mario should not have played, Moutinho had no business being on that field, another player that should not have played was Semedo, this guy is weak...

I have not posted here in a while,I was very surprised with the lineup myself, Moutinho and Joao Mario should not have played, Moutinho had no business being on that field, another player that should not have played was Semedo, this guy is weak link as a center back, he's reaction time is very slow, when we played against Serbia, Serbia came very close to scoring on Portugal several times due to Semedo's inability to maintain his man....Portugal will go through along with Ukraine, but i'll tell you something right now, Portugal has to clean up some defensive lapses that could comeback to haunt them in the next tournament, on the positive side Portugal dominated Ukraine, in possessions, shots on goal, passes and so on.....they just could not score, on to the next game.

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For me, the only player that should not have played was Joao Felix. I'm a big fan of him at Atletico Madrid, but his last two performances were very very bad. Here against Ukraine, just for 45 minutes coming in the second half and he didn't do a...

For me, the only player that should not have played was Joao Felix. I'm a big fan of him at Atletico Madrid, but his last two performances were very very bad. Here against Ukraine, just for 45 minutes coming in the second half and he didn't do a thing. Heck, he even stood in front of a good scoring chance by Bernardo Silva. Guedes or even Andre Silva are more mature than him and should start in front of him any day.

People should stop bashing on Joao Mario. His ball control was amazing. Too bad he didn't score in the first half.

The other player that didn't convince me tonight was Joao Moutinho. Ruben Neves should have got the nod instead of him. As always, Bruno Fernandes still doesn't produce anything spectacular for Portugal.

Ronaldo was the only one that stood out for Portugal. Pepe and Semedo did okay. Watching Bernardo Silva sometimes frustrates me.

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Santos' starting 11 didn't make much sense, especially giving the start to João Mário. His decision to leave André Silva on the bench when we really could have used another target in the box late in the second half was also puzzling.

That being...

Santos' starting 11 didn't make much sense, especially giving the start to João Mário. His decision to leave André Silva on the bench when we really could have used another target in the box late in the second half was also puzzling.

That being said, you can't blame him for Guerreiro's lack of concentration or for the lack of clinical finishing from the likes of João Mário, Danilo, Bernardo, and Bruno Fernandes.

Shevchenko and Ukraine may have been. Outposessed and outshot throughout the entire match but they capitalized on the only clear cut chances they created all match and defended resolutely with the utmost discipline. The stats will show that this game was largely one way traffic, but in all honesty I believe Ukraine were the deserved victors on the night. We were punished for an individual mistake and we were wasteful with the 4 or 5 quality chances we created.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“When I said Portugal were contenders to win Euro 2016 they said I was crazy. I say the same thing now. Portugal are not favourites for Euro 2020 but we are contenders and will be fighting to win it. We've won 2 tournaments in the last 4 years.”

Fernando Santos
(Portugal coach after the Seleção clinched qualification to Euro 2020) 

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