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

@FRfutebolJamie

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

Goals:

[1-0] William Carvalho 15’, [2-0] Cristiano Ronaldo 35’, [3-0] Cristiano Ronaldo 39’, [4-0] João Cancelo 68’

Comments (28)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

A Very fine performance especially in the first half. The movement off the ball was outstanding. Really enjoyed watching Bruno Fernandes and William play tonight. This probably is the heaviest defeat for Switzerland since 2008 and the last time...

A Very fine performance especially in the first half. The movement off the ball was outstanding. Really enjoyed watching Bruno Fernandes and William play tonight. This probably is the heaviest defeat for Switzerland since 2008 and the last time they lost by a four goal difference in an official game was in 2001.

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Samuel
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Solid match. I want to touch on Cancelo and Mendes’ performances. They were both superb. Like top notch. Cancelo is undisputed as our RB. Mendes is giving Guerreiro a run for his money. Both are very gifted offensively, but defensively I think...

Solid match. I want to touch on Cancelo and Mendes’ performances. They were both superb. Like top notch. Cancelo is undisputed as our RB. Mendes is giving Guerreiro a run for his money. Both are very gifted offensively, but defensively I think Nuno is quite a bit better. His speed and ability to recover the ball today were great, but I was also impressed at how physical he has become. He made some important challenges which were aggressive, clean, and physical. He won that free kick for us as well. He’s not even 20 yet.

Bruno played well, perhaps being back home at the Alvalade inspired him, it gives us something to look forward and be hopeful for. He put in a commanding performance and got gritty. He was key for the two Ronaldo goals. I think Neves should be starting over Moutinho no doubt. He’s more aggressive and his distribution today was great. So many times his distribution from deep ignited some dangerous offensive moments. As a player who hasn’t quite solidified his place into the XI, he didn’t do a lot wrong to convince us that he should stay on the bench.

Patricio relatively untested. His distribution was better, he’s been throwing a lot more than kicking which paid off. Danilo and Pepe solid again. Nice to see William back and with a goal, he’s found some form again. Otavio is an energizer bunny. He’s making a name for himself in this side, his work ethic and grind is what we need. I was skeptical when he was first called up, but I’ve been so happy with his performances since he’s started. Jota played selflessly, great work the Ronaldo’s first and some solid goaltending kept him off of the scoresheet.

Bernardo: magnificent as usual. Leao did well and linked up very well with Mendes. That left side has the potential to be terrifying.

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Teresa
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Regarding Bruno, if he is going to be a consistent asset for the NT, he has to be a Attacking Mid, or Forward in this case, that is allowed to roam and find opportunities. In the midfield, he has been ineffective.

Regarding Cancelo, he is a good...

Regarding Bruno, if he is going to be a consistent asset for the NT, he has to be a Attacking Mid, or Forward in this case, that is allowed to roam and find opportunities. In the midfield, he has been ineffective.

Regarding Cancelo, he is a good defender. Not the best one on one but very capable, his tackles and interceptions were excellent, as was his reading the game. We shouldn't be confused when he is out of position because he is attacking, as bad defense. It is the price we pay for the most creative attacking full/wing back.

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Paulo
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Glad you pointed this out. I agree wholeheartedly on Bruno’s positioning. Either attacking mid/second st or nothing. Ive said it before but his best performances have come when he’s been in just behind the striker as a cf or even as a striker for...

Glad you pointed this out. I agree wholeheartedly on Bruno’s positioning. Either attacking mid/second st or nothing. Ive said it before but his best performances have come when he’s been in just behind the striker as a cf or even as a striker for Man United as well. He is so dangerous in the opponent’s box, he’s able to pick a pass or shoot with deadly accuracy. His talent is wasted when deeper in the middle of the pitch. Let Bernardo and co. create and link the defence with offence.

It is certainly the price we pay re: cancelo. On form, he’s the best fullback in the world. One thing that has been extremely effective with the implementation of Otavio is that he allows Cancelo to get forward easier and more effectively. Otavio is naturally able to play on the wing and in the center of midfield. On a few occasions he came to cover while Cancelo drifted forwards and won a few challenges. Otavio defends well and is an aggressive player. The setup reminds me of Liverpool when Alexander-Arnold attacks and Henderson covers and allows him that space to roam. It’s been devastatingly effective.

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Teresa
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CONGRATULATION, Baby Nuno played a decent game.

Neville
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At this point if we'd had lost this match, we would probably already be a dozen comments. Winning and winning with conviction is not something most Portuguese want to talk about. Amazing how negative Portuguese people tend to be.

Robbie
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Robbie, most of us were too busy celebrating to post.

Forca!

Now let's do this again against the Czech and go into first place!

Paulo
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That was probably one of, if not the best Seleccao performance under Santos that I've seen. Bravo.

William Carvalho really showed what he is capable of and had an amazing game.

Otavio for me, should be an automatic starter. His energy and...

That was probably one of, if not the best Seleccao performance under Santos that I've seen. Bravo.

William Carvalho really showed what he is capable of and had an amazing game.

Otavio for me, should be an automatic starter. His energy and relentlessness really change the dynamic of the squad. Mendes was really good, Pepe and Danilo looked great together, Ronaldo was his majestic self.

Cancelo had a brilliant game in defence and attack, the subs were all great as well. Hats off to the squad and o Enginheiro for a great display.

We saw great pressing and creativity along with awesome chance creation.

Spain, for their part, looked crap and if Portugal can use this game to get on a roll, I see us as contenders for a repeat of the Nation's League and even the World Cup.

Credit to Santos, I am still not an ardent supporter, but it's hard to argue with results. I hope he can continue to roll the train forward.

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Chris
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Chris,

I too have not been a Santos supporter as of late and thought he should go. But credit to him on this performance and results. However....

The thing that gets me, is why we haven't seen more of these performances in the past and why not...

Chris,

I too have not been a Santos supporter as of late and thought he should go. But credit to him on this performance and results. However....

The thing that gets me, is why we haven't seen more of these performances in the past and why not more consistently? Was this down to Santos or are we finally starting to see what this talented group is capable of?

What's your take?

It would be great to finish out these last two games with performances like this. I would love nothing more than to eat my words on Santos and instead of calling him the Engineer, call him the adaptable one. Hopefully, he is realizing what this group is capable of and help us win a world cup.

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Paulo
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Hi Paulo,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

What do I think? Well, I think that Santos has suffered from the thing that we once thought made him great: options.

It feels like in the last 2 years, there have been a lot of call-ups, a lot of...

Hi Paulo,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

What do I think? Well, I think that Santos has suffered from the thing that we once thought made him great: options.

It feels like in the last 2 years, there have been a lot of call-ups, a lot of combinations thrown together, but not a lot that have stuck to the wall.

The biggest flaw I saw during the WC qualifiers was a lack of urgency: none of the players felt too bad about losing possession and no one pressed the opposing team to get the ball back.

The other issue was that during the Euros, the gameplan was "cross it into the box and pray to Fatima".
But that is problematic as Santos has a CM/CDM/CAM-heavy selection bias. He rarely selected wingers and if he did, he would not play them, choosing instead to have players adapt to his positions, not what they do naturally.

Bernardo, Bruno F and Andre Gomes were classic examples of this. Bernardo is a CAM, but always played on the wing. Bruno F played anywhere from #8 to the wings, but he is in fact a 2nd striker or CAM.

We have seen this more or less remedied by the use of Otavio, a player who can play a proper RM or CM. This eases the pressure on other players such as Cancelo, allowing for a more fluid attack transition.

I think if Santos opts to continue with combining his tactical demands + player's natural positions + pressing game, we will see the team go on a run and really gain confidence.

If he continues to experiment though, and ask CM's to play on the wings, or CDM's to play as CM's, we will see a regression.

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Chris
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William and Neves, Mendes and Cancelo....

Top top top top top performance today.

Forca85
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Happy with the performance. The World Cup is in 6 months, these types of performances are important.

Santos will utilize the entire squad, so anyone who doesn’t perform in these performances either needs to communicate their best position to...

Happy with the performance. The World Cup is in 6 months, these types of performances are important.

Santos will utilize the entire squad, so anyone who doesn’t perform in these performances either needs to communicate their best position to Santos or stay home. With the WC in the middle of the club season, there probably won’t be many, if any, tune-up friendlies. These games and the ones in September are crucial for getting the balance right.

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Brian/RI/US
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If Portugal should find their style of play in such a performance, perfect: Fast transitions, accurate passing and surprisingly fast ball-corculation. Great. But we may not forget: Switzerland‘s left winger (Vargas) injured himself during warm...

If Portugal should find their style of play in such a performance, perfect: Fast transitions, accurate passing and surprisingly fast ball-corculation. Great. But we may not forget: Switzerland‘s left winger (Vargas) injured himself during warm up. The guy thrown in instead (Lotomba) is a defender. This helped Cancelo in his superb display. Further, the space that the Swiss left open between defense and their midfield was really huge. This helped Portugal a lot to have a great game between the lines.
Mendes was great too. Very mature performance. Otavio MOTM for me. He is such an effective workhorse. Kudos to FS for not playing Bruno and Bernardo together. And CR7 finally played the 9 position as he should (also with back to the net when necessary). William back to hus best days. Sure this is where one should build on, let‘s see if this performance is a statement of the NTs style or a one-hit wonder.

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Rolf Gerber
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AGE IS JUST A NUMBER - RONALDO & PEPE Great as always. The match was worth the time.

Octavio was excellent and so was Danilo. Danilo has made his name a Central defender, defending with ease and authority. He was agile and quick on...

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER - RONALDO & PEPE Great as always. The match was worth the time.

Octavio was excellent and so was Danilo. Danilo has made his name a Central defender, defending with ease and authority. He was agile and quick on counterattacks nullified by his sheer speed. BETTER THAN Ruben Dias. So PEPE has a perfect partner in the central defense.

Now Ruben Dias a backup, only shows his tight muscles and lacks speed and agility.

If we have Renato Sanchez, Joao Felix, and Ricardo Pereira ( as a substitute) in the squad we can beat any top 10 teams to get our hands on the WC.

This match was exciting with counter-attacking play. Ruben Neves, Cancelo, and baby Nuno were great too.

I Hope Fernando Santos gives David Carmo a chance to play in the next match.

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Neville
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I completely agree with you, I know Danilo gets battered at CB by many of the contributors on this fan page. The thing that is overlooked is the attributes Danilo brings of speed and better coverage over the slower Ruben Dias. I like Ruben...

I completely agree with you, I know Danilo gets battered at CB by many of the contributors on this fan page. The thing that is overlooked is the attributes Danilo brings of speed and better coverage over the slower Ruben Dias. I like Ruben Dias, just not on the NT due to his lack of pace -- he is a liability. We have younger CBs that need to develop as I don't see Ruben Dias as a viable option when we play top tier national teams (he was exposed against Germany in Euro 2020).

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Tony
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Classic Portuguese Counter-attacking football with some flair. I do get frustrated by fancy flicks and first touch deceptions but when they go right, they can quickly open up spaces. Not every team is capable of this. The Serbia defeat was a...

Classic Portuguese Counter-attacking football with some flair. I do get frustrated by fancy flicks and first touch deceptions but when they go right, they can quickly open up spaces. Not every team is capable of this. The Serbia defeat was a tight slap for the complacency of Santos and his team and there are some encouraging signs that show Portugal are able to solve their collective problems especially the team chemistry.

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Nishanth Dsouza
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Was... was that an actual good performance from Portugal?! I'm shocked. So shocked that I've watched a match more than once for the first time since the 2019 Nations League Final - which was the last time we played well in my opinion. Watching...

Was... was that an actual good performance from Portugal?! I'm shocked. So shocked that I've watched a match more than once for the first time since the 2019 Nations League Final - which was the last time we played well in my opinion. Watching this team has been torturous these last couple of years, torturous to the point of sucking my enthusiasm away for posting. Because what would I say? The same things over and over? What's the point? I can't speak for anyone else obviously but in response to Robbie, that's why I haven't posted as much lately. BUT today was fun! So I'm energized, and I have things to say:

First things first -- I'd like to formally welcome the following players to the senior Portuguese national team: Nuno Mendes, Ruben Neves, Joao Cancelo, and CB version Danilo. Iunno what the hell happened between now and March but holy cow do these guys look like completely different players. Nuno's shown flashes at LB but he hasn't been confident or consistent enough on both ends of the pitch to cement the position as his own in my opinion. This was, by far, his best match, and if he keeps a similar standard up, there will be no dislodging him. Danilo as a CB in these last two games? Wow. He's looked world class: confident, composed, aggressive, physical... He's even looked quicker tracking guys down and pushing up the pitch. If he can put in a similar performance without Pepe next to him, then I think it's safe to say we'll be using him as a CB from now on. And with Neves and Cancelo, I've posted multiple times talking about how these guys don't show up for Portugal and probably shouldn't even be on the team on that basis, but against Spain/Switzerland they've shown up as well. Finally! Cancelo in particular-- you guys wax lyrical about him being good defensively and I would often just sit here scratching my head thinking, "Am I watching a Mandela effect version of Cancelo? Because every time I focus on him he's doing something stupid and putting us in danger". TODAY... I agree with you guys. And I just want to say this is all I've wanted to see from him. He kept focus, kept his cool, and, most importantly, didn't force a single damn thing. And boy was he beautiful to watch. I'm not above admitting I was wrong, so, fair is fair -- I was wrong. Long may I be proved wrong!

I think the problem with Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva is that, while they aren't the same player, they have the same style: roaming. The former isn't disciplined enough to stay in one place and the latter isn't as effective staying in one place. So, essentially, unless we're playing a minnow and monopolizing possession, we can't play with both on the pitch. And you know what? Who cares? Just rotate them. Let's not turn this into an endless Lampard & Gerrard debate circa England 2010. We have plenty of talent, we don't need to weld a lineup together; players should just, more or less, click.

A quick note on big Willy Velvet: stop hatin'. The man was off for a long time after that back injury, but, when he's on (and this season he's looking back on) he's a special player. He adds a completely different dynamic to our midfield and everything seems to work better when he's on the pitch. You just need a touch of pace around him to maximize the impact (like Mendes, Cancelo, Diogo Jota, and Otavio did today).

On Otavio: What a phenomenal revelation he's been. There's just something about him in a Portugal shirt that feels right. His work ethic is, I think, contagious, and you can see that he enjoys the sacrifice. You can't win without players like that. I think Matheus Nunes is showing glimpses of being a similar player for Portugal; hopefully he can start again soon.

What else...? Pepe = Good. Ronaldo = Goat. And hopefully we see similar performances in these next two matches. If we do, we might've turned a corner.

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George
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Willy Velvet did look real good. When he is in form, what a great asset to have. But he is such a big, lanky guy, if his agility if off, he quickly becomes a liability, i.e. Germany game.

But this game, he was in top form, long it continues. But...

Willy Velvet did look real good. When he is in form, what a great asset to have. But he is such a big, lanky guy, if his agility if off, he quickly becomes a liability, i.e. Germany game.

But this game, he was in top form, long it continues. But if it doesn't, please Santos, don't make us and him suffer.

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Paulo
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“I tried to take advantage of every minute the mister gave me. It wasn’t the result we wanted, we always want to win, but we played a great team with some of the best players in the world and a draw ended up a positive outcome.”

Ricardo Horta
(Portugal’s goalscoring substitute after 1-1 draw against Spain in Seville in the Nations League) 

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