Portugal dismantled Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League thanks to a vibrant attacking display at Lisbon’s Estádio José Alvalade.
Coach Fernando Santos has faced plenty of criticism for a perceived lack of style but this was put to one side for at least an evening as the Seleção overwhelmed their opponents in a vastly one-sided affair that could have yielded an even higher scoreline than the 4-0 full time score.
William Carvalho and João Cancelo goals either side of a Cristiano Ronaldo brace ensured a comfortable evening for the 2019 Nations League champions.
Santos made plenty of personnel alterations to Thursday evening's draw with Spain, most notably with Ronaldo being restored to the starting lineup at the expense of André Silva. Elsewhere Rúben Neves and William replaced João Moutinho and Bernardo Silva in midfield, Diogo Jota came in for Rafael Leão in attack and at the back Nuno Mendes started over Raphaël Guerreiro. Additionally, Rui Patrício started in goal, displacing Diogo Costa.
The hosts dominated the first half and racked up a scoreline to reflect that fact, opening the scoring in the 15th minute. Ronaldo’s free kick was parried by Swiss goalkeeper Gregor Kobel, and there to gobble up the rebound was the unlikely figure of William.
Portugal had chances to add to their tally and eventually did so through skipper Ronaldo after 35 minutes of play. Bruno Fernandes latched onto a forward pass and did well to find Diogo Jota, who in turn laid the ball on a plate for Ronaldo, who did the rest with the Swiss defence in disarray.
Ronaldo doubled his tally just four minutes later with Fernandes and Jota again taking on key roles, the latter’s effort saved but the captain was on hand to tap into an empty net for 3-0.
Switzerland showed more attacking intent in the second half but Portugal defended very solidly throughout the half to frustrate their opponents, whilst themselves remaining very dangerous in counter attacking moments.
Ronaldo thought he had completed his hat-trick in the 51st minute, only for VAR to correctly intervene over a clear offside call.
A fourth goal did arrive in the 68th minute though, substitute Bernardo Silva exchanging passes with Cancelo before the full back showed great composure to round the onrushing Kobel and roll into an unguarded net.
Portugal’s superiority continued until the final whistle as Ronaldo’s treble pursuit ultimately proved fruitless, seeing a chance to seal one from the spot taken away as once again VAR foiled him, downgrading an initial penalty call to an edge of the box free-kick after excellent attacking work from Nuno Mendes.
Still, a fantastic team performance from Santos’ side who are now in a highly promising position in Group 2, taking joint leadership with Czech Republic who held Spain to a 2-2 draw elsewhere. Positive signs all round for the Seleção with a massive six months ahead.
By Jamie Farr
Portugal XI: Rui Patrício; João Cancelo, Pepe, Danilo Pereira, Nuno Mendes; William Carvalho (Matheus Nunes 85’), Rúben Neves (João Palhinha 77’), Bruno Fernandes (Bernardo Silva 67’); Otávio (Rafael Leão 77’), Diogo Jota (Ricardo Horta 67’), Cristiano Ronaldo
Subs not used: Diogo Costa, Rui Silva, Domingos Duarte, Raphaël Guerreiro, Diogo Dalot, João Moutinho, André Silva
Switzerland XI: Gregor Kobel; Kevin Mbabu, Fabian Schär, Fabian Frei, Ricardo Rodriguez (Noah Okafor 62’); Granit Xhaka, Djibril Sow (Mario Gavranović 81’), Xherdan Shaqiri (Remo Freuler 70’); Jordan Lotomba, Renato Steffen (Mattia Bottani 70’), Haris Seferović (Breel Embolo 62’)
Subs not used: Jonas Omlin, Yvon Mvogo, Silvan Widmer, Eray Cömert, Michel Aebischer
[1-0] William Carvalho 15’, [2-0] Cristiano Ronaldo 35’, [3-0] Cristiano Ronaldo 39’, [4-0] João Cancelo 68’