Luxembourg 1-3 Portugal

The Seleção were made to work hard tonight against an organized and resilient Luxembourg in Group A of qualification for World Cup 2022 at the Stade Josy Barthel.

Once again, it was a case of superhuman efforts from the opposition keeper combined with bad finishing which prevented a more egregious scoreline, and Portugal found their way through adversity after going 1-0 down in the first half to snatch all three points and move top of Group A on goal differential.

Cristiano Ronaldo added to his record tally while João Palhinha scored his first ever goal for Portugal.

Fernando Santos, under-fire for squad selection and failure to make timely substitutions in Portugal's previous encounters, made several changes with João Félix and Renato Sanches in the starting XI. Jota again partnered Ronaldo after his performance against Serbia.

Portugal initially struggled to break down the determined hosts with errant passing and general lack of cohesion perhaps a symptom of an unstable starting XI with few training days in between matches. Ronaldo finally registered Portugal's first shot on target in the 24th minute when João Félix was brought down on the left side of the penalty area. The resulting free kick was well-struck but straight at keeper Anthony Moris who punched the ball to safety.

Cancelo burst free down the right minutes later and squared for Renato Sanches, but Moris was again up to the task. But Portugal's lackadaisical start was punished by a brilliant header from Gerson Rodrigues, his second big goal in as many matches. It was Luxembourg's first shot of the evening.

Bernardo Silva forced another save from Moris in the 35th minute after a surprisingly good throughball from José Fonte. Portugal were then forced into a first half change when Félix pulled up with an ankle injury, Wolverhampton's Pedro Neto taking his place.

Renato Sanches was next to go close with a shot from range tipped over the bar, and Ronaldo miscued a header after a wonderful cross from Nuno Mendes, but Portugal would have been left with a small mountain to climb were it not for Diogo Jota. The Liverpool forward was well-placed to head home substitute Pedro Neto's excellent cross from the left in first half stoppage time, another hugely important effort from Jota and the sixth of his Portugal career.

The Seleção came back with renewed vigor to start the second half and quickly restored order through Cristiano Ronaldo. As possession broke down, Ronaldo picked up the ball and charged through the middle, passed wide to Cancelo, and deftly finished the fullback's cross with the inside of his right boot, his 103rd Portugal goal.

Nuno Mendes nearly added to the lead minutes later after showing great situational awareness to cut between two defenders, but his rasping diagonal effort was well-saved by Moris. But Luxembourg were still in the match, and a decent run behind from Gerson was punctuated with a sizzling effort that rippled the side netting.

Jota hit the crossbar following Renato's corner just before the hour mark, but Luxembourg settled the tempo and began to pressure the visitors. Anthony Lopes was called into action to tip over a looping free kick from the right wing. Then, in the 77th minute, Ronaldo spurned a glorious chance to increase Portugal's lead after a badly misplaced pass found him all alone with just the keeper to beat. But Moris beat away Ronaldo's attempt with the follow-up being ruled out for offside.

Moris had time enough to stop one more point blank effort from Neto before Portugal finally found their next goal. João Palhinha's angled run met Neto's corner with a glancing header which found the top right corner to give the visitor's a 3-1 advantage with ten minutes plus stoppage time left to play.

Unlike the previous two matches, Portugal's response to difficulty was much improved, and Nuno Mendes' performance was hugely encouraging, but for the third match running the team at times appeared second best to an opponent who pales in comparison to Portugal's Euro 2020 group stage competitors. Arguments will be made on all sides regarding why this round of matches was so difficult for Portugal, but the Seleção have a great deal of work ahead of them to find their best XI, and achieve better harmony in midfield.

Portugal will begin preparation for Euro 2020 in June with a friendly against Spain. 

 

by Nathan Motz

 

Luxembourg XI: Anthony Moris - Enes Mahmutovic, Maxime Chanot, Laurent Jans, Lars Gerson - Leandro Barreiro, Christopher Martins, Olivier Thill, Vincent Thill, Gerson Rodrigues - Danel Sinani

Portugal XI: Anthony Lopes - João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, Nuno Mendes - Ruben Neves (Sergio Oliveira), Renato Sanches, João Félix (Pedro Neto), Bernardo Silva (João Palhinha) - Diogo Jota (Rafa Silva), Cristiano Ronaldo 

 

Goals:

[1-0] - Gerson Rodrigues (30')

[1-1] - Diogo Jota (45+1')

[1-2] - Cristiano Ronaldo (51')

[1-3] - João Palhinha (80')

Comments (29)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The first half was beyond awful. The second half was better, but still frustrating at times. Luxembourg are a level above the Andorras, San Marinos, and Gibraltars of the world, but there is no reason why we should be getting outplayed and...

The first half was beyond awful. The second half was better, but still frustrating at times. Luxembourg are a level above the Andorras, San Marinos, and Gibraltars of the world, but there is no reason why we should be getting outplayed and outfought by them.

Ronaldo, again, looked unfit. That one on one miss in the second half was painful to watch. Hopefully he can snap out of this funk by the Euros - otherwise we have no chance.

Nuno Mendes was solid throughout. If we've learned anything in these three games, it is that he is a more than adequate alternative to Guerreiro at left-back.

Jota's too clinical to start on the bench, especially considering the funk Ronaldo has been in. We need him on the pitch from the get go.

Neto was superb when he came on and changed the game in our favor.

I also thought Renato looked really good throughout. He's an absolute beast in transition, and I don't recall him misplacing a single pass all game long.

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Overview - Nuno Nuno Nuno. That kid needs to start every game. Renato is back, he and Neves were great together. Fonte and Cancelo were on vacation on some island in the Caribbean. Ronaldo played tooooo much, why? Don't necessarily believe in...

Overview - Nuno Nuno Nuno. That kid needs to start every game. Renato is back, he and Neves were great together. Fonte and Cancelo were on vacation on some island in the Caribbean. Ronaldo played tooooo much, why? Don't necessarily believe in Sergio Oliveira, but Palhinha is winning me over. Neto was outstanding. I think Felix needs his time, hopefully, he is ok. Bernado ran all over the place, a starter. Jota is a starter PERIOD.

I still don't get the 442 formation, this was a weak team defensively and when we pressed the defense they didn't know what to do, but you could see that Santos doesn't like that style of play. So they were letting Lux bring up the ball and this baffles me. Another issue I have is defensive - how many times are we going to get beat by a player coming down the middle untouched? We need to send the coaching staff a breakdown of the game so that they understand where we are getting scored on. When Lux was about to score I was already calling goal. You could see this coming. Fonte needs to be a coach this late in his career and teach our team his mistakes. Our bench needs some of those kids from the U21, I think we have more Nuno's on the team that needs to play up. I personally think this coach has had a good run, but you could tell the players are not listening to him or his staff. We need a good young Dutch coach to come in and play offensive soccer with the team we have.

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Disagree with your suggestion that we need a young Dutch coach. Portugal has so many young gifted , intelligent and innovative coaches Jardim etc. I have said this two years ago that we need a change in manager/ head coach . Santos is not the man...

Disagree with your suggestion that we need a young Dutch coach. Portugal has so many young gifted , intelligent and innovative coaches Jardim etc. I have said this two years ago that we need a change in manager/ head coach . Santos is not the man to inspire us to Euro or World cup glory. He has past his sell by date. Our poor performances are mainly down to his team selection , tactics, lack of awareness during games and is not motivating our players. A sad state of affairs.

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Yeah, have to agree with you Thomas. Don't know where this random call for a "young Dutch manager" is coming from. Let's just pick some dude with a "van" in his last name and see how that goes.

Also agree with you regarding Santos. I like...

Yeah, have to agree with you Thomas. Don't know where this random call for a "young Dutch manager" is coming from. Let's just pick some dude with a "van" in his last name and see how that goes.

Also agree with you regarding Santos. I like him a lot as a person, he seems like a really nice guy. And he brought us our first major trophies, which I really appreciate. However, I too have a lot of doubt about whether he can get the best out of this generation.

Watching them play, speedwalking up the pitch on a counter against Luxembourg really had me laughing. It was like watching Portugal's 50+ intramural team taking a stroll. Where was the fire? The desire? The swash-buckling attacking? Honestly, it feels like he tells them to just take it easy and play as casually as possible.

Leonardo Jardim would also be my top pick to lead this squad. I can't believe this man is out of work at the moment. What an underrated coach. Maybe we can start calling him Leonardo van Jardim to make Rodrigues happy.

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Although I believe the comment of random Dutch coach is a little silly, I understand completely what Jon was alluding to. Santos and mostly every coach available with Portuguese affiliation are Defensive. I can't stand watching a talented team...

Although I believe the comment of random Dutch coach is a little silly, I understand completely what Jon was alluding to. Santos and mostly every coach available with Portuguese affiliation are Defensive. I can't stand watching a talented team play with no design, identity or conviction. Unlike 2016, this team is actually very talented. Santos is useless with talent. His only gameplan is pragmatism and alot of luck. Portugal had both in 2016. They need to play more offensively and take the game to their opponents. There is no shame in losing a game, as did Brasil to Belgium in the last WC, if you play to your strengths.
Why can't the Potugal federation understand this and get a coach like from a system that believes in the talent available and unshakle the horses..
So, yes, I understand what Jon is saying, dutch football is aleways predicated on playing beautiful football, which is what this generation of players can deliver. It don't care what their nationality..

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Worst game by far and it wasnt team selection...however if your going to play 2 creative players than the holding mid should have been danilo.

What was the worst was the attitude, energy and sloppiness...i felt like they thought 1st gear and...

Worst game by far and it wasnt team selection...however if your going to play 2 creative players than the holding mid should have been danilo.

What was the worst was the attitude, energy and sloppiness...i felt like they thought 1st gear and walking through the game was enough...until LUX scored it was completely static and zero intensity. Its worriesome when LUX tactics, movement, passing and intent is better than portugal.

Very few positives in this game for me. Nuno mendes very good again, renato when he actually started to drive forward and Jota with a fine finish and killer instinct. Happy for JP to get his first goal and Neto for at least showing some hard running. The rest....Bla!

Ronaldo may have got his goal but something is definitely wrong...its the same at Juve....he doesnt or cant run anymore. Forget the 2 glorious chances near the end...the whole situation is represented in his 1 on 1 gift by the other team...he didnt accelerate, non chalatantly in away tried to shoot through the keeper with no one around...it was real bad...all he had to do was accelerate to the right and shoot...goal...his game right now in a nutshell..no pace, energy and his desire looks down....worrying.

Also, why have we become so static in possession, i saw very little forward running off the ball...everything...even the one touch was static...making defending against them so easy especially in the first half...the pressing was slow too.

Santos better find some solutions and get their intensity and movement back real.quick. also he needs to find the right balance with that midfield and transition to attack.

There will be no excuses for a poor showing this summer from the FPF considerig the squad we have, thats for sure especially if the football isnt good...this is not 2016...expectations are at their highest and rightly so.

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In all 3 games I’ve seen no tactics, no plans, no system in place, nothing. It’s like Santos picked out 11 names out of a hat and threw them out on to the field without proper coaching. Santos is not the correct manager for such a talented group...

In all 3 games I’ve seen no tactics, no plans, no system in place, nothing. It’s like Santos picked out 11 names out of a hat and threw them out on to the field without proper coaching. Santos is not the correct manager for such a talented group of players.

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I went into this international break with such excitement over this team. Man, what a disappointment they’ve been. I went from believing this team could geniunly win it all to thinking they can actually get knocked out in the group stage. I don’t...

I went into this international break with such excitement over this team. Man, what a disappointment they’ve been. I went from believing this team could geniunly win it all to thinking they can actually get knocked out in the group stage. I don’t see how you can feel positive after seeing these performances. These teams that we just played aren’t exactly top class.

Santos has no idea what his best 11 is or how to get the best out of these players.

Really hope Ronaldo gets his head on straight. Despite scoring today it was yet another poor performance. I can’t believe that miss when he was 1v1 with the goalkeeper. His confidence has looked shot since the champions league elimination. Dude has also barley been given a rest which contributes to his poor form. He’s 36 and has been carrying that terrible Juventus side all season.

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Another Jeckyll and Hyde performance by Portugal. It’s as if they think that the game is a breeze and the goals will magically come from somewhere. Again, they had to pull up their big boy pants and actually grind out the result.

The problem...

Another Jeckyll and Hyde performance by Portugal. It’s as if they think that the game is a breeze and the goals will magically come from somewhere. Again, they had to pull up their big boy pants and actually grind out the result.

The problem with Portuguese fans is the ‘shiny new toy’ syndrome. Palhinha played well, but is he better than an in-form William or Danilo? I’m not sure. Nuno Mendes? Another great performance, but I LOATHE this wingback hybrid position! Portugal playing too far up in the pitch, with little defensive support

I don’t doubt Santos - I’m his biggest supporter, but I often worry about the selection of players. Félix is a enigma, plays well on and off in spurts. Rúben Neves? I feel like I am always wanting more from him.. could be that I don’t watch international club games like I used to.

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First 3 games we should have had 9 points outta 9. Portugal only played well in the first half in the Serbia the rest of their performance have been extremely off par.

30 mins Luxembourg easily the better team.

C. Ronaldo is off form, he would...

First 3 games we should have had 9 points outta 9. Portugal only played well in the first half in the Serbia the rest of their performance have been extremely off par.

30 mins Luxembourg easily the better team.

C. Ronaldo is off form, he would have had a hat trick if he scored the chances that seriously should have been taken.

Jota has to start each game, his goals record speak for themselves.

Fernandes Santos tactics and game management along with squad selection is certainly questionable these 3 games, but at least he can see what Nuno Mendes brings to the table, dude won't be at Sporting for much longer.

Credit to Luxembourg they improved a lot in the last few years and look certain to finished in 3rd place which is a great achievement for a country of only 600k population.

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The team looked so much better when Palhinha came in. He was bossing the midfield. Very happy he got a goal too. Really hope he’s on the plane but with the limited playing time in these games unfortunately I don’t see it.

We all know how badly...

The team looked so much better when Palhinha came in. He was bossing the midfield. Very happy he got a goal too. Really hope he’s on the plane but with the limited playing time in these games unfortunately I don’t see it.

We all know how badly Pepe has been missed but so has William.

If it were up to me Palhinha and William would go to the euro and then it’s up to Santos to choose between Danilo and Neves. I don’t think Neves plays well for Portugal though.

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Very interesting game. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, it was certainly a mixed bag, but a win nonetheless.

Big games from Renato, Mendes, and Neto. Renato injects that energy and pace that we need in our sometimes lethargic midfield....

Very interesting game. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, it was certainly a mixed bag, but a win nonetheless.

Big games from Renato, Mendes, and Neto. Renato injects that energy and pace that we need in our sometimes lethargic midfield. Although he needs to mature a little more, and have better decision making, IMO, he should be starting regularly if he his fit. Mendes almost scored a Puskas contender today! Aside from that, he showed defensive vigour, had some nice balls into the box, and overall performed really well. Neto picked up two solid assists, one on a Palhinha corner header which I was thrilled to see! I hope Félix isn’t out for too long, I want to see him play some big games in Atletico’s challenge for the title.

Ronaldo with the winning goal - but again not one of his best performances. Not sure what happened on that 1v1 with the keeper, and was amazed that he didn’t score. Who knew little Jota could be so efficient with his headers, glad to see him on the scoresheet, even though he didn’t look particularly sharp today.

Now, if you didn’t watch the game or just saw “Portugal vs Luxembourg” you might have assumed a comfy 4-0, 5-0 win from the Seleçao. This Luxembourg team is SOLID. They’ve got a lot of Portuguese players in their side, and also a lot of talent, and they play an attract brand of football. Although Ireland isn’t quite the team that they used to be some years ago, Luxembourg completely outclassed them in the fixture a few days ago. I knew that they were a team that possessed some talent, but they exceeded my expectations. They’ve got a great goalkeeper, and Gerson Rodrigues rivals Bernardo and Renato for his work rate, not mention he scored a fantastic goal.

Going forward, I’m not sure that anybody really knows exactly what our best XI is, although I always appreciate reading everyone’s desired XI’s. I think Nuno Mendes has almost a guaranteed chance of being called up for the Euros, even when Guerreiro is fit again. Not sure who will start in net. Despite his height, Lopes has certainly made a solid case for himself, especially showing how good he is with the ball at his feet. Cancelo had quite a few slip ups, but had a decent defensive game (certainly had his hands full with Rodrigues) and played that wonderful ball into Ronaldo. Palhinha should be starting, or call William up XD (he always plays better for the Seleçao than his club).

Anyways, let’s see how our boys do during the final stretch of their respective seasons, and hope they all stay fit in our attempt to defend OUR Euro!

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Every flaw in the last 3 games is beneficial for Santos for the Euros. The fact that they are not showing their cards yet, means they want to stay out of the spotlight. Ronaldo knows exactly how to prepare for the Euros. William will surely be...

Every flaw in the last 3 games is beneficial for Santos for the Euros. The fact that they are not showing their cards yet, means they want to stay out of the spotlight. Ronaldo knows exactly how to prepare for the Euros. William will surely be back. Nuno Mendes and Palhinha will be starters. Also Trincao will return to this group. The only one looking out of place seems Neves. I am sure Fonte is done and dusted after this game.

Santos will get it right.

There were similar displays in the qualifiers before 2016. Ugly games, last minute wins.

The rest is history.

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