Portugal 6-0 Lithuania

Portugal are one win away from qualifying for Euro 2020 after crushing Lithuania 6-0 in the Algarve tonight. Captain Cristiano Ronaldo got the ball rolling, scoring two goals in a one-sided first half. Little changed after the interval with Pizzi, Gonçalo Paciência and the brilliant Bernardo Silva adding further goals before Ronaldo completed his hat-trick to round off the scoring. 

Victory in Luxembourg on Sunday will guarantee the runners-up spot in Group B and a berth at next summer's European Championship. 

 

New-look line-up

Coach Fernando Santos rang the changes, many forced by injury, starting with the new full-back pairing of Ricardo Pereira and Mário Rui. The former was drafted in for the injured Nélson Semedo, the latter chosen ahead of Raphaël Guerreiro, and both acquitted themselves well, especially Ricardo who demonstrated why so many have been clamouring for his inclusion with a dynamic display throughout the 90 minutes.

In midfield Pizzi and Bruno Fernandes were paired in the middle, with Neves at the base and Bernardo notionally at the tip of a diamond, but in truth the Manchester City wizard was everywhere as he turned in his now habitual mesmerising performance for the Seleção. Up top Gonçalo Paciência partnered Cristiano Ronaldo and was lively throughout. 

Portugal started like they were in a hurry, some wonderful wing play by Bernardo bamboozling two Lithuania defenders before crossing just too high to enable Ronaldo to direct his header on target. In the 7th minute another Portugal attack caused panic in the Lithuania box, with Mikolinas fouling Ronaldo for an obvious penalty that the captain duly dispatched.

Paciência heavily involved

Gonçalo Paciência was seeing plenty of the ball as Portugal were encamped in the Lithuanian half, and the Eintracht Frankfurt striker almost doubled the lead as he rose well to head Mário Rui's cross goalwards, drawing a stunning diving save out of Setkus. 

Paciência and Ronaldo both came close soon afterwards as Portugal swarmed all over Lithuania and it was no surprise when the hosts scored again. In the 22nd minute Paciência pounced on a loose pass and immediately played in Ronaldo who produced a superb first-time finish to send the ball rocketing into the net from 20 yards out. 

With Bernardo pulling the strings the Seleção had further chances in the first half, Paciência crashing a volley over the bar after being teed up by Ronaldo and the captain blasting an effort a little too high after being played in by Mário Rui.

Seleção on song

If the visitors hoped Portugal would take their foot off the pedal in the second half they would be disappointed. Playing with a fluidity and speed of thought and execution that has often been missing during this qualification campaign, Portugal created chance after chance - too many to list here.

The goals came naturally enough: Pizzi fired in off the bar and post after a neat give-and-go with Bruno Fernandes, Gonçalo got in on the act when Lithuania goalkeeper Setkus spilled Bernardo's shot at his feet and Bernardo Silva himself got a richly deserved goal after latching onto Ricardo's cross. 

Ronaldo hunts down Daei

When Ronaldo hit is hat-trick goal - Bernardo again involved with the assist - a historic scoreline was on the cards given that it was 6-0 with around half an hour of the match still remaining. Ronaldo has now scored 98 goals for Portugal, and is just 11 short of catching the top all-time international goalscorer, Iran's Ali Daei. There is little doubt that CR7 will claim the outright record. 

Portugal slowed the pace a little, substitutions further broke the rhythm yet the chances kept on coming, Paciência and Bruma with the best of them but Setkus kept out their efforts. Despite conceding six goals and making a terrible mistake for Paciência's goal, the Lithuania goalkeeper stood out as the best performer for the Baltic team.

Indeed, as satisfying a night as it was for Portugal, so weak were Lithuania that it is difficult to draw too many conclusions, but the vibrancy with which Ricardo Pereira and Gonçalo Paciência in particular took their opportunity suggests Fernando Santos could well be using them in his starting XI in coming games, starting with Sunday's showdown against Luxembourg. 

by Tom Kundert 

 

Portugal: Rui Patrício, Ricardo Pereira, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, Mário Rui, Rúben Neves, Pizzi, Bruno Fernandes (João Moutinho, 72′), Bernardo Silva (Bruma, 67′), Gonçalo Paciência, Cristiano Ronaldo (Diogo Jota, 83′)

Lithuania: Setkus, Mikoliunas, Palionis, Girdvainis, Andriuskevicius, Slivka, Simkus, Kurklys (Matulevicius, 57′), Novikovas, Cernych (Kazlauskas, 81′), Golubicklas

Goals:

[1-0] Ronaldo, 7′

[2-0] Ronaldo, 22′

[3-0] Pizzi, 52′

[4-0] Gonçalo Paciência, 56′

[5-0] Bernardo Silva, 63′

[6-0] Ronaldo, 65′

 

Comments (12)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This should always be our strategy against defensive teams. Force an early penalty. Convert it. Then, force the bus to move forward from its parked position.

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Excellent all around performance from start to finish against the type of opponent that we would traditionally struggle against.

Lithuania are a poor side, but anyone who has watched the Seleção for more than 5 years will remember how we would...

Excellent all around performance from start to finish against the type of opponent that we would traditionally struggle against.

Lithuania are a poor side, but anyone who has watched the Seleção for more than 5 years will remember how we would consistently labor to grind out 1-0 wins against the lesser national sides of Europe. Watching Portugal score 6 goals in a dominant performance is refreshing to say the least!

If the reports are true, Ronaldo's been bothered by a niggle knee injury over the past few weeks, so fortunately he wasn't ever required to get out of second gear at any point of this game. He just hovered in and around the box, waiting for the likes of Pizzi, Fernandes, and Bernardo in particular to manufacture clear cut chances for him.

The midfield played beautifully today, with Bernardo looking absolutely world class pulling the strings as a proper #10. Ricardo, despite not being tested defensively, also provided a constant threat down the right side.

Luxembourg are better than the some of their parts but I expect nothing less than another comfortable win. Hopefully we'll see Ronaldo reach the 100 mark!

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Bernardo and Pereira were superb, Ronaldo could have had 6.
I was excited by the formation and name choices and it was a great game.
I suspect however, that against a scoring team, Santos will revert back to a 2 DM arrangement. I think they...

Bernardo and Pereira were superb, Ronaldo could have had 6.
I was excited by the formation and name choices and it was a great game.
I suspect however, that against a scoring team, Santos will revert back to a 2 DM arrangement. I think they shouldn't be afraid, and focus on scoring, we proved with the right approach we can do it.
Did I mention how awesome Bernardo was? ?

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I want to echo Jon's sentiments about dominating the game, I know it was only Lithuania, but I too have seen way to many 1-0 games where all we could do is cross into the box and hope to get a goal when the other team was parking the bus.

In the...

I want to echo Jon's sentiments about dominating the game, I know it was only Lithuania, but I too have seen way to many 1-0 games where all we could do is cross into the box and hope to get a goal when the other team was parking the bus.

In the first half, we barely let them out of there own half. They only had two shots, one of then was just launching the ball forward, none on goal. Compared to the first game where they had 7 shots, 3 on goal and I goal scored, this was a much better performance.

I really do enjoy the offense is the best defense approach today, supplement by quick and aggressive pressing when the lost the ball.

The man of the match for sure was Bernardo, he was everywhere and causing all kinds of problems.

I thought Paciência played real well, his hold up and link up play was great. Having a more traditional center forward helps against the park the bus teams and gives us another dimension. With him and Eder playing well, it gives Santos a lot more tactical choices.

Ricardo was solid, Fonte and Dias did well in defense and helped out in the attack and in the press.

It is great that the depth of the squad is paying off, given all the injuries of the players.

My only major concern before the Euros( should we beat Luxe and qualify), is left back. Rafa G., doesn't consistently play that for his club team and Mario Rui, is a best a journeyman player. I know we can move a right back to left, but I don't think any of them are as effective on the left as the right.

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Nothing to rave about

Jon, I, and others have shared the same sentiments about the struggle Portugal has had in years past to grind out results. Come to think of it - the worst coach in the history of Portugal (Carlos Queiroz) has a lot to do...

Nothing to rave about

Jon, I, and others have shared the same sentiments about the struggle Portugal has had in years past to grind out results. Come to think of it - the worst coach in the history of Portugal (Carlos Queiroz) has a lot to do with that, as well as Bento aka the stubborn mule who used the exact same formation and lineup of players way past their sell by date. Another thing.. the overall quality and depth of this squad weighs heavier than the teams we had under those last two coaches combined.

So with that being said.. not so much a victory to be claimed. Lithuania is not just poor, they're brutal. If somebody told me that I was watching San Marino.. I would have believed them. Absolute despicable display. And I know the quality in MLS has risen in the last decade with the acquisition of all of these ex world stars, I still think the league is terrible and I don't watch it. And this is getting a bit off topic but I firmly believe my home team TFC would have smoked Lithuania in the same regard. That's how bad they were. No defensive presence in the midfield or final third. Every time they touched the ball, it was last ditch clearance attempt from their own penalty area. Sorry.. but i'm not giving Portugal credit for this one. All of the goals were tap-ins except for Ronnie's second, that was exceptional. Every thing else though anyone can see for themselves. No resistance at all. Hopefully Luxembourg will give a damn in front of their own fans because there's nothing to take away from this game. Credit to Santos though for going with the more offensive minded personale, and hope this is a sign of adaptation for when it really matters down the road.

Força Portugal

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Ya, Pizzi’s goal tapped two bars and went in if that’s what u mean by tap in

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I figured we'd have some smart ass get technical with me over Pizzi's goal.. well inside the penalty box at point blank range not to mention the deflection off the crossbar, post, then in. But you know what Joe? You're right! it's not a tap in....

I figured we'd have some smart ass get technical with me over Pizzi's goal.. well inside the penalty box at point blank range not to mention the deflection off the crossbar, post, then in. But you know what Joe? You're right! it's not a tap in. Go eat a smartie now.

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Ricardo and Paciência are so dynamic and change the complete mentality of the team. So strong and technical. They reminded me of the Brazil 1994 world cup qualifying and finals team under Carlos Alberto. Paciência reminded me of Rai and Ricardo...

Ricardo and Paciência are so dynamic and change the complete mentality of the team. So strong and technical. They reminded me of the Brazil 1994 world cup qualifying and finals team under Carlos Alberto. Paciência reminded me of Rai and Ricardo of Cafu. I think except for Mario Rui, there is no weak link in our team. Speaking of Mario Rui, we need to try Nuno Sequiera or bring back Fabio Coentrao (even though he does not have a club) to cover for Rafa.

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I really liked what I saw from Paciencia - a true #9 type. He looked like he complemented CR7 real nicely despite never playing alongside him. Tough to gauge since it is Lithuania. Luxembourg on the road will be more challenging. However, I hope...

I really liked what I saw from Paciencia - a true #9 type. He looked like he complemented CR7 real nicely despite never playing alongside him. Tough to gauge since it is Lithuania. Luxembourg on the road will be more challenging. However, I hope Santos keeps a similar attacking lineup...cannot be afraid to attack and win 1-0. A draw would likely keep us out of 2nd with Ukraine going to Serbia already assured top of the group.

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Unfortunately I did not see the game, I am curious how well Pizzi did it with a starting place? with his pass awareness and scoring ability, he can give the midfield more dynamics than the older Moutinho / Mario. He could be the glue between the...

Unfortunately I did not see the game, I am curious how well Pizzi did it with a starting place? with his pass awareness and scoring ability, he can give the midfield more dynamics than the older Moutinho / Mario. He could be the glue between the lines with Bruno and Bernardo been able to appose a threat in front of the goal or on the wings. Who did Neves perform? He hasnt been fully adapted to the squad just yet. He has aswell the ability to extent the build up play towards the more creative midfielders/ just like Frenkie de Jong for Holland. Why did Mario Rui got a place over Guerreiro? Mario Rui isnt a starting place material, doesnt really perform at Napoli aswell. Good for Paciencia and Jota to make their debuts. Hopefully they can start more often instead of Andre Silva and Eder, who are less mobile strikers, and are more suitable for a subsitution role at extra time. Paciencia, is equally good as Andre, but has more speed and brings more energy with his playstyle. Definitely an deserved call-up for him, never really thought i would make it this far though.

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To be honest the defence was never tested, the midfield was dominated by Bernardo, I mean DOMINATED! so the other players around him shone. Next game, if the same formation /call ups are made we can tell a little better the role of Pizzi and Rui.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It’s a group with the three winners of the last three major tournaments. But we believe in our possibilities and we believe we can win.”

Fernando Santos
(Portugal coach reacts to tough Euro 2020 draw for the Seleção) 

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