Portugal held on with 10 men at Aviva Stadium to secure a 0-0 draw against Republic of Ireland. There were few chances in Dublin, Cristiano Ronaldo going close in the second half, the match taking a sharp turn in the 81st minute when Pepe was sent off.

Fernando Santos selected a weakened line up with six players a booking away from a suspension against Serbia. It was largely a match to forget, but a vital point gained in Portugal's quest for automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup. 

Weakened Line Up

Fernando Santos used caution with José Fonte, Rúben Dias, João Cancelo, Renato Sanches and Diogo Jota starting on the bench. João Palhinha was the only player risked in the starting side.

Palhinha started next to Matheus Nunes in midfield with Gonçalo Guedes next to Cristiano Ronaldo and André Silva in attack. Danilo Pereira partnered Pepe in central defence with Nélson Semedo and Diogo Dalot the full backs.

The first half lacked quality with chances hard to come by. A quick Bruno Fernandes free kick released Andre Silva who couldn’t beat Gavin Bazunu, Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot blocked after some nice interplay between Semedo and Guedes.

Ronaldo took a knock early on and went down after a collision with Matt Doherty, but referee Jesús Gil was reluctant to blow his whistle and frequently allowed the game to continue.

Republic of Ireland got into the game with Callum Robinson’s shot parried by Rui Patrício, John Egan heading a corner wide before Robinson sent a shot wide.

The Boys in Green were threatening from set pieces and went close to fashioning a chance before the break. A free kick fell dangerously to Jeff Hendrick and Chiedozie Ogbene headed Robinson’s cross wide.

Ogbene sparks Ireland into attack

Ireland started the second half well with Ogbene the main instigator. João Palhinha was fortunate to avoid a booking after holding him back and Danilo Pereira got into two separate struggles with the Nigerian born winger.

Matheus Nunes was having a poor game and almost gifted the hosts a goal. He gave the ball away in Portugal’s 18-yard box, but was spared by Josh Cullen who fired a weak shot straight at Patrício.

Nunes and Gonçalo Guedes made way for João Moutinho and Rafael Leão, Ronaldo going close in the 67th minute when he narrowly headed André Silva’s cross wide.

Danilo was booked for taking out Ogbene before Pepe was cautioned for handball. In the 75th minute Santos introduced Renato Sanches and João Félix for Bruno Fernandes and André Silva.

Ogbene continued to be a bright spark for Ireland, creating a chance for Enda Stevens that went high and wide. Ronaldo went close from distance before the match came to life in the 81st minute.

Portugal reduced to 10 men

Pepe lost possession near the touch line, inviting pressure from Robinson who went down after catching a high shot. Pepe was shown a second yellow card which saw Santos replace Leão with José Fonte.

Portugal were sitting dangerously deep, blocking a succession of shots with most of the 50,737 in attendance finally finding their voice. They celebrated when Doherty put the ball in the back of the net but there had been a foul in the build up.

Ronaldo tried his luck in added time, his shot from a tight angle saved by Bazunu.

Analysis

Fernando Santos' critics will be frothing at the mouth, but Republic of Ireland proved how difficult they can be to break down in the Algarve.

With Aviva Stadium sold out, Bernardo Silva injured, Nuno Mendes suspended and Santos starting with Rúben Dias, João Cancelo, Renato Sanches, João Félix and Diogo Jota on the bench, the stage was set for a tough game in Dublin and so it proved.

There is little use drawing conclusions from this match which goes down as one to forget.

Portugal's main aim was avoiding defeat. Pepe's dismissal meant Portugal had little option but to dig in for the final 10 minutes, the point gained putting the Seleção in prime position to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Quote, unquote

Fernando Santos, Portugal coach: “Am I happy with the result? Naturally. In terms of our position, winning 5-0 or drawing here was the same thing. Of course I’d prefer to win 5-0, but it’s a positive result. Serbia has to play in our stadium to win. I’m convinced we’ll qualify.”

By Matthew Marshall

Line Ups

Portugal XI (4-2-31): Rui Patrício - Diogo Dalot, Danilo Pereira, Pepe, Nélson Semedo - Matheus Nunes (João Moutinho’), João Palhinha - Bruno Fernandes (Renato Sanches 75’) - Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva (João Félix 75’), Gonçalo Guedes (Rafael Leão 56’ (José Fonte 83’))

Unused substitutes: José Sá, Diogo Costa, Rúben Dias, João Cancelo, William Carvalho, Rúben Neves, João Mário, Diogo Jota

Coach: Fernando Santos

Republic of Ireland XI (3-4-3): G. Bazunu - J. Egan, S. Duffy, S. Coleman - E. Stevens (J. McClean 78’), J. Hendrick (C. Hourihane 78’), J. Cullen, M. Doherty - J. McGrath (A. Idah 61’), C. Robinson, C. Ogbene (W. Keane 91’)

Unused substitutes: M. Travers, C. Kelleher, R. Manning, T. Parrott, C. O'Dowda, J. Knight, N. Collins, A. Browne

Coach: S. Kenny

Comments (74)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Can we please fire this coach! Also, Joao Moutinho, stop the bullshit already. Moutinho cannot even trackback, you would think Neves would get the chance that Nunes got, but no, Mr "All the teams we play are tuff" Santos keeps playing for ties....

Can we please fire this coach! Also, Joao Moutinho, stop the bullshit already. Moutinho cannot even trackback, you would think Neves would get the chance that Nunes got, but no, Mr "All the teams we play are tuff" Santos keeps playing for ties. What is wrong with this and why is this person our coach. Why isn't the Portuguese press all over this, this coach is coaching futebol from the 80's, he won't coach video futebol as he calls it.

Story of our team history, put in a foreign coach so the politics stop and they will play the best 11, or they play a system that doesn't look for a tie every game.

Mr Santos thank you and please leave the playing field for good.

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Mate joao moutinho will have a walking stick and still be miles better than fernandes or danilo william nevez nunes ...

i do wish neves got a shout over nunes but moutinho always brings something when he comes on,he settles so well everytime.A...

Mate joao moutinho will have a walking stick and still be miles better than fernandes or danilo william nevez nunes ...

i do wish neves got a shout over nunes but moutinho always brings something when he comes on,he settles so well everytime.A gem...

fernandes and danilo and nunes and even palinha shocking again to day...

portugal u21 is of thr hook bring in some young center backs etc...

andre silva il say no more

guedes was ok but the crossing wqs none exciting master plays,santos is not the man for the job ruben or leonardo would be nice...

i hope never ever ever jose mourinho well past
felix another waster, raphael leao and renato sanches should start every game ans bring in inicio ffom sporting

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A foreign coach, okay, but who??

The last time I asked who should be replacing Santos, nobody could name one decent manager. One wise guy said Alex Ferguson.

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I think you're picking and choosing what you remember friend. You have asked many times "who" and myself and others have named several managers including Jardim, Fonseca, Pereira, Villas Boas, Amorim among others.

These are all more than just...

I think you're picking and choosing what you remember friend. You have asked many times "who" and myself and others have named several managers including Jardim, Fonseca, Pereira, Villas Boas, Amorim among others.

These are all more than just 'decent' managers but I see you're choosing to neglect these conversations. Is your logic that Santos should stay on? Did you see yesterday's pathetic display?

At this point I would pick a trained monkey over Santos.

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Alex is a proven coach and wants Ronaldo to win it all. Is Zidane still looking for a job?

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Amorim without a doubt. Marco Rose! Eric ten Hag! I would even take the coach from Leeds right now - Marco Bielsa.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Amorim in a few years once Ronaldo and Pepe retire. I don't think he has the clout to tell them what to do. Heck, I don't think Santos has the clout now, and you can see it in the team.

Also, he is still in the Liga title chase and is likely to...

Amorim in a few years once Ronaldo and Pepe retire. I don't think he has the clout to tell them what to do. Heck, I don't think Santos has the clout now, and you can see it in the team.

Also, he is still in the Liga title chase and is likely to stay in European competition.

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Amorim in a few years sure, but let's not act like he couldn't be convinced to take the task.

Amorim gets paid peanuts compared to the multi-millions Santos gets for absolutely trash work.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Good point, and I think he would definitely bring along the younger players to balance with experience.

I think he is going to be an excellent coach, so if he makes his earlier career at the NT, I am all for that.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Amazing display.

I was really impressed with Fernando Santos' persistence and tactical nous that allowed us to come away with a point against the mighty Irish.

The way Portugal fought so hard to get that incredible single shot on goal over...

Amazing display.

I was really impressed with Fernando Santos' persistence and tactical nous that allowed us to come away with a point against the mighty Irish.

The way Portugal fought so hard to get that incredible single shot on goal over the course of 90 minutes, brilliant.

You know, I was beginning to have my doubts about maintaining Santos in charge, but I'm glad that I listened to those wiser than myself who insisted that Santos was still the man with the plan.

And how right those people were. Thanks to Santos and today's brilliant performance, we have a shot at embarassing ourselves in Qatar in 2022.

Well done Santos loyalists!! You've converted me! O enginheiro's still got a bunch of tricks up his sleeve!!!

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Chris well said. It seems to me that instead playing to our advantage, no let's be scared and play to the other teams advantage while we don't make a mistake. The ball coming back to defense, the ball going to the wings to come back to the...

Chris well said. It seems to me that instead playing to our advantage, no let's be scared and play to the other teams advantage while we don't make a mistake. The ball coming back to defense, the ball going to the wings to come back to the defense and eventually the goalie, what bullshit futebol is that? Who on this website can actually say with a straight face that Santos knows what the hell he his doing?

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To your point, defence was a big part of the problem. I'm a Portista and been a big fan of Danilo for years.

He's a great DM. But I don't know where this idea came from that he can be a CB. He can't. It showed yesterday.

Aside from that, the...

To your point, defence was a big part of the problem. I'm a Portista and been a big fan of Danilo for years.

He's a great DM. But I don't know where this idea came from that he can be a CB. He can't. It showed yesterday.

Aside from that, the midfield selections were baffling, but if we can get over that, there is no intensity, no pressure and zero creativity of threat in the final 3rd.

But I look forward to the next 'Bandwagon' article or commenters defending this manager, who, has done much for us, but his time is over. He doesn't know what to do in any situation, but worst of all, if we are losing, he just throws out random substitutions and gives them zero directives.

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I do like Danilo at CB, mostly because lack of options.

What is interesting is that Santos stated the Danilo is much better at DM when he first went to PSG, and now is backtracking and realizing he can be a CB.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

We're going to have to agree to disagree. I'd rather a solid CB who plays there regularly like Domingos Duarte, Inacio (Sporting) or even Ruben Semedo over Danilo.

Watching yesterday, Danilo was almost always out of position and allowed Irish...

We're going to have to agree to disagree. I'd rather a solid CB who plays there regularly like Domingos Duarte, Inacio (Sporting) or even Ruben Semedo over Danilo.

Watching yesterday, Danilo was almost always out of position and allowed Irish attackers past him on several occasions. He was very poor.

I have seen Pochettino employ him as a CB at PSG a few times as well and it's the same issue. He's not used to the positional role and timing interceptions.

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And when I think of Danilo as a CB, I am really envisioning him part of a back three.

But I will save my thoughts on a back three for another time.

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Part of a back 3, Inacio would work, that's what he does at Sporting.

Danilo might not be bad as a CB in a back 3, but I just think it's the wrong role for him.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Chris to that point why not Neves? It seems to me it's everyone else except for Neves. Seriously did you see Moutinho try to track back - light jog. Oh well I lost the ball in midfield and I will just jog back.
Renato needs to start and Bruno...

Chris to that point why not Neves? It seems to me it's everyone else except for Neves. Seriously did you see Moutinho try to track back - light jog. Oh well I lost the ball in midfield and I will just jog back.
Renato needs to start and Bruno needs to get out of his head and just take over. Bruno's runs yesterday where lethargic, anti-attacking, don't get it.

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I like Ruben Neves for lesser opponents. But, barring yesterday's sub-par performance, Palhinha is the starter at DM.

He offers a lot of grit, positioning and soaks up pressure in that role. He's also a good dribbler and crisp passer.

Yes, he...

I like Ruben Neves for lesser opponents. But, barring yesterday's sub-par performance, Palhinha is the starter at DM.

He offers a lot of grit, positioning and soaks up pressure in that role. He's also a good dribbler and crisp passer.

Yes, he gets a little hot sometimes but he has a big upside. I feel him and Renato in midfield gives us more bite. Renato is like our Podolski (for Germany).

Mediocre club career, but at Seleccao level, fantastic player. Agreed on Bruno. He's such a disappointment on this team. Really quite useless.

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Well there you have it. Yet another predictable serving of Santos-"Yeah, I've got nothing"-ball. Eire drawing Portugal? Didn't need to be a psychic. Where is this going? Hard to believe we might actually qualify, if we're lucky. All that talent?...

Well there you have it. Yet another predictable serving of Santos-"Yeah, I've got nothing"-ball. Eire drawing Portugal? Didn't need to be a psychic. Where is this going? Hard to believe we might actually qualify, if we're lucky. All that talent? A mediocre at best coach makes an apparent top class team an embarassing, even less than mediocre one. Chances are at least split that we go to elimination rounds, and then, if we win, forced to qualify in a lower pot, i.e. end up in yet another Group of Death, and then.... you know the rest.

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Eder scored the winning goal for Portugal in 2016 but we knew he was a terrible striker but he still stayed for another 15 games and was booted out. It's time for F. Santos to get the boot.

It is obvious that Fernando Santos simply does not have...

Eder scored the winning goal for Portugal in 2016 but we knew he was a terrible striker but he still stayed for another 15 games and was booted out. It's time for F. Santos to get the boot.

It is obvious that Fernando Santos simply does not have it anymore to take this Portugal side to another level, all those subs in the end with no offensives plan, nobody will forget what he did for us but this team is simply too talented to be playing scared football against extremely weak sides like Ireland who are themselves one of the poorest Ireland sides for a while now.

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Excellent, well said. The best comment from Santos was that "winning 5-0 or tiring was the same" I might have gotten that wrong, but the mere fact that he played scared yet again, total joke.

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0% chance.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

My god how people are so foolish here. Ireland is one of the tougher opponents in the group. Happy we got a point. Can’t win them all

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

If your expectations are that low, I hate to ask what you expect out of the Serbia game.

Let's hope Serbia don't hammer us 4-0. Under Santos, that's a real possibility. Wake up and smell the coffee, friend.

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Ireland is not a tough opponent for a team filled with world-class players. They are below Luxembourg.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

@Chris, I am with you!

I am back on the Santo's bandwagon!

I am so glad Ogbene was held in check. You know the guy who has zero goals in 17 appearances for the mighty League One side Rotherdam United(ok, he does have a goal for Ireland in...

@Chris, I am with you!

I am back on the Santo's bandwagon!

I am so glad Ogbene was held in check. You know the guy who has zero goals in 17 appearances for the mighty League One side Rotherdam United(ok, he does have a goal for Ireland in WCQ). I know premier league teams are now swarming for his signature.

@John, yeah people are foolish here. How dare they demand more of this NT!

It was an impressive result! Forget the draw, that was a minor miracle. That fact we had even stats with them was impressive!

One of the tougher teams in the group for sure, 4th place must be an anomaly. I know their 51st ranking is going to change very soon.

I don't know how they are 4th in the group, but after they beat Lux, they will go to 3rd!

By the way those who want a foreign coach after this Santos masterclass(or is it disasterclass), take heart, OGS will be available soon.

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Ogbene almost made the mistake of going to Real Madrid, but luckily he was scooped up by Rotherham United, most decorated club in history.

But I'm a bit surprised you neglected to mention Jamie McGrath, all star currently plying his trade at...

Ogbene almost made the mistake of going to Real Madrid, but luckily he was scooped up by Rotherham United, most decorated club in history.

But I'm a bit surprised you neglected to mention Jamie McGrath, all star currently plying his trade at St. Mirren, best British team of all time.

I think John might be onto something. Considering the 6 World Cups and 4 Euros Ireland gas won, we were fortunate to escape with a point.

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Even though it seems like a glaring omission(haha I did overlook him), I intentional left him out of the picture.

I didn't want to get into this whole GOAT debate, you know the one, Ronaldo, Messi, McGrath.

Being a Portugal NT website, we know...

Even though it seems like a glaring omission(haha I did overlook him), I intentional left him out of the picture.

I didn't want to get into this whole GOAT debate, you know the one, Ronaldo, Messi, McGrath.

Being a Portugal NT website, we know who the real GOAT is.......

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Of course....Roy Keane!

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Lol Chris, very well said. thanks for the humor.

I'm beyond agitated with this team overall but the lack of commitment to winning today was evident from the get go. So, I'll save my anger for another day. Let's see what Portugal are really made...

Lol Chris, very well said. thanks for the humor.

I'm beyond agitated with this team overall but the lack of commitment to winning today was evident from the get go. So, I'll save my anger for another day. Let's see what Portugal are really made of now that we've offically entered crunch time ..

When Moutinho clicks, so does the whole team. Too bad like Ronaldo, he's in the sunset stage of his career. Bruno looks like a lost puppy out there. That holding/distribution type of midfielder is vital. Fernandes vanishes without one. I thought Leão played alright.. blazed past his marker with speed and put in one decent cross though he's accustomed to the left side. After Pepe got the red I would have subbed Felix instead. "Menino de ouro" seems a little blinded by his own hype and expects the ball at his feet. Sanches deserves better for the amount of effort he provides. Hope he starts. Can't wait for the fireworks on Sunday.

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Can you imagine Moutinho on Italy, a team where the players actually move off of the ball, Jorginho would never get off the bench( I am speaking over a whole career, Jorginho is playing super well now).

When are players are static, Moutinho...

Can you imagine Moutinho on Italy, a team where the players actually move off of the ball, Jorginho would never get off the bench( I am speaking over a whole career, Jorginho is playing super well now).

When are players are static, Moutinho being a smart player has no choice but to pass it sideways and back to retain possession, so he looks ineffective.

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Yeah, Leao came on, guns a blazing, but then he started to chill. Coming in at 56 minutes, you better go hard the whole rest of the game.

Could be he just got infected to quickly with Chillitis, like the rest of the team.

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Tactically these games are quite strange. I get it that one goal in the first half for Portugal might've tipped the balance, and the game could've ended 3:0 or 4:1, but why play with a slow tempo and a high offensive line when Ireland uses a...

Tactically these games are quite strange. I get it that one goal in the first half for Portugal might've tipped the balance, and the game could've ended 3:0 or 4:1, but why play with a slow tempo and a high offensive line when Ireland uses a system invented to overcome this style of playing. Against a packed defense there were a lot of through ball and one-two passing attempts. No one really dragged the defenders out of the position. The Portuguese defenders were often in the situation they had no one to pass to unless they played a long ball or passed to Patricio. Also Ireland seemed to suffocate under high pressing and conceded possession easier without any solutions on how to deal with it. But since a draw got Portugal the first place it probably wasn't smart to tire out the players uselessly pursuing a victory at all costs and have less options to choose from against Serbia.

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I turned off the tele after the 1st half. Abysmal performance, it really was frustrating to watch. Leading up to the game there was really not much at stake and having our eyes truly set on Sunday’s match, I didn’t expect the team to perform...

I turned off the tele after the 1st half. Abysmal performance, it really was frustrating to watch. Leading up to the game there was really not much at stake and having our eyes truly set on Sunday’s match, I didn’t expect the team to perform well. Because of that goal line tech disasterclass in the reverse fixture in Serbia we find ourselves in this situation. Such is life.

The main issue today IMO (aside from not having a real tactical plan) was having 0 midfield presence. I was genuinely disappointed in Nunes performance, I really thought he would’ve provided that grit that we need in the centre of the pitch. Too often were Ronaldo and Silva dropping DEEP to try and create something. Woeful performance from Bruno and Guedes as well. The passing was haywire and from the get-go we did not look steady. Pepe not being available for Sunday is really the cherry on top. Vlahovic and co. are going to keep our back line VERY busy.

Andre Silva has had a huge dip in form this whole season and I don’t want to see him anywhere near the starting XI.

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it here at all, but Patricio’s kicking is horrendous. Every time the ball is at his feet (when he doesn’t pass it to the CB) it is kicked over the heads of our fullbacks or down the middle of the pitch back to the opponents. Maybe I’m spoiled from watching City and Ederson, but the ball distribution from Patrício is concerning.

There will undoubtedly be a different mindset and approach to the match on Sunday. We are playing a solid side at home though, and if we are to be considered anything near a title contender at the WC2022, we need to have a decisive victory at home. We’ll have Rúben, Mendes, Cancelo, Jota, Sanches, and hopefully Bernardo if he’s recovered, back in the XI. For me the x-factors in this side are Cancelo and Sanches, without them we won’t go anywhere. I also hope we get to see Bernardo in the middle, because in the right position Bernardo is one of the best players in the world.

I understand the frustration because believe me, I am hugely disappointed and furious at the performance. However, the result of this match (other than a loss) really does not matter heading into Sunday. The lads are tired from playing 2 times a week, playing CL football, travelling, etc. Hopefully they’ll arrive with fresh legs and a new mindset on Sunday for a game where we must deliver. If we don’t, finish 2nd and are henceforth drawn into the group of death I won’t watch the WC.

Força.

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“These players continue to surprise me every day.”

Rúben Amorim
(Sporting coach after 3-1 Lisbon derby victory against Benfica at the Estádio da Luz) 

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