History created as Portugal thrash Luxembourg 9-0 in the European Championship qualifiers

Portugal made is six straight wins in the European Championship qualifiers after a history making 9-0 victory against Luxembourg at Estádio do Algarve.

The Seleção led 4-0 at half-time, Bruno Fernandes instrumental with Gonçalo Inácio and Gonçalo Ramos scoring two goals each.

Roberto Martínez’s side went on with the job in the second half, Diogo Jota coming alive with two goals of his own either side of an assist for Ricardo Horta.

Bruno Fernandes got a goal his performance deserved with João Félix putting the icing on the cake with a sweet strike into the top corner.

The victory is Portugal's largest in history, eclipsing 8-0 victories in 1994, 1999 and 2003.

PortuGOAL’s Matthew Marshall reports from Loulé.

Domination starts early

Rafael Leão saw plenty of the ball early on, Portugal’s first chance coming in the 9th minute when Gonçalo Ramos headed Bruno Fernandes’ corner wide.

Luxembourg were making some inroads down their left wing, the pace of Yvandro Borges Sanches troubling the Seleção defence but the visitors unable to test Diogo Costa.

Bernardo Silva and Nélson Semedo were combining well down the right wing, Semedo getting into the box and rolling the ball to Gonçalo Ramos who had an air swing.

Floodgates open

Luxembourg’s resistance lasted until the 12th minute when Bruno Fernandes was given a second chance to deliver the ball into the box following a corner, using the outside of his boot to perfection and picking out Gonçalo Inácio who headed past Anthony Moris.

Six minutes later Portugal extended their lead with some help from Maxime Chanot. The centre-back lost the ball under pressure from Fernandes, Bernardo Silva feeding Ramos who made no mistake with a left-footed strike past Moris.

Luxembourg were chasing shadows, their early promise a distant memory as Portugal continued to turn the screw and probe for opportunities.

Diogo Jota fired over the bar and volleyed a difficult chance wide after latching onto a cross from Semedo. Semedo was then presented with a chance after a fine pass from Fernandes, the right-back seeing his shot blocked.

Inácio headed another corner wide but it was only a matter of time before Portugal scored again. The moment came in the 34th minute when Rafael Leão surged past Laurent Jans, his cross finding Ramos who did well to control, turn and fire another left-footed effort through Moris.

Portugal were on fire but Luxembourg were frequently being caught in possession, another terrible turnover resulting in Diogo Jota's strike smashing against the bar.

Fernandes robbed Jans near the byline but couldn’t steer his shot on target. It mattered little with playmaker instrumental in the Seleção making it 4-0 on the stroke of half-time.

It was almost a carbon copy of Portugal’s second goal as Fernandes, given another chance following a corner, put the ball on a plate for Inácio who headed home from close range.

Second half slaughter

Luc Holtz made three changes at the break with Timothé Rupil, Florian Bohnert and Alessio Curci making way for Dirk Carlson, Lars Gerson and Sébastien Thill.

The horse had bolted however as Fernandes continued to create chances, this time a free kick finding Ramos who couldn’t direct his header on target.

Holtz went to his bench again in the 54th minute when Vincent Thill replaced Mica Pinto. Vincent was booked less than a minute later after hacking down Leão on the edge of the 18-yard box.

Portugal made it 5-0 in the 58th minute after a peach of a pass from Fernandes sent Jota clear, the forward making amends for his previous misses by heading the ball forward and firing it into the back of the net.

Roberto Martínez made a triple substitution in the 60th minute with Nélson Semedo, Bernardo Silva and Gonçalo Ramos making way for João Cancelo, Ricardo Horta and João Félix.

Luxembourg managed to test Costa for the first time when Vincent Thill sent Leandro Barreiro clear, his shot from a tight angle tipped wide by the goalkeeper.

If the floodgates hadn’t already opened, they were about to be blasted apart as Portugal scored their sixth goal in the 67th minute. Rúben Dias released Jota who spotted the run of Ricardo Horta, the substitute’s shot too hot for Moris to handle.

Vincent Thill fired over the bar after some nice work from Borges Sanches but that’s as good as it was going to get for the visitors.

Ricardo Horta smashed a shot straight at Moris and couldn’t get to the rebound in time, Martínez emptying his bench in the 75th minute when Danilo and Leão made way for Rúben Neves and Otávio.

Portugal scored for a seventh time in the 77th minute when Jota followed up a pass into the box that wasn’t cleared by Maxime Chanot, the ball falling perfectly for the forward who placed the ball past Moris.

Luxembourg were the architects of their own demise once again in the 83rd minute when they fell 8-0 behind. Lars Gerson passed the ball straight to Horta who broke clear and passed to an unmarked Fernandes who was never going to miss with Moris to beat.

There was still time for Félix to get in on the act. Receiving a pass from Neves, he danced around some non-existent defenders before picking his spot and burying the ball in the top corner.

History created

Roberto Martínez’s side went into the record books after recording the biggest win in Seleção history, eclipsing three teams that registered 8-0 victories.

Two came at home against Liechenstein in the European Championship qualifiers, at Estádio da Luz in 1994 and Coimbra in 1999.

The latest came in 2003, a friendly against Kuwait in Leiria, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side too good with Pauleta scoring four goals, Luis Figo finding the net and Nuno Gomes coming off the bench to bag the final three goals.

Luxembourg embarrassed

Luxembourg had done well since suffering a 6-0 defeat to Portugal in the Grand Duchy, defeating Liechtenstein, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland by two goals.

It counted for little in Loulé where questionable tactics from Luc Holtz did his side no favours at all.

The visitors hardly attempted to penetrate with long balls into the channels, another tactic we have seen the opposition repeatedly used against Portugal.

Portugal’s recent opponents have placed a big emphasis on getting players back in transition to help their full-backs deal with the threats that the Seleção pose out wide. Not much of that was on show tonight.

Laurent Jans, a 31-year-old who plies his trade at Waldhof Mannheim in the German 3. Liga, was always going to have a tough time against Rafael Leão. Florian Bohnert helped his captain out for about five minutes, then left him on his own which was always going to end in disaster for the right back.

Complete performance

Roberto Martínez made five changes to his starting side, Gonçalo Ramos and Diogo Jota making their first starts under the new manager in place of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and Vitinha who dropped to the bench.

Nélson Semedo was the third player making his first start under Martínez, starting at right-back with João Cancelo on the bench and Diogo Dalot switching to left-back. Gonçalo Inácio replaced António Silva in central defence and João Palhinha made way for Danilo in the holding midfield role.

It seemed like everything Roberto Martínez has been trying to implement came to fruition.

Danilo dropped deep when Portugal had possession, Portugal’s full-backs beginning to understand when to rampage down the wing and when to come inside to create an extra man in midfield.

Nélson Semedo and Bernardo Silva linked up well down the right wing with Rafael Leão needing little assistance on the opposite wing as Luc Holtz hung Laurent Jans out to dry.

With Diogo Jota given freedom to roam across the frontline and Bruno Fernandes picking his moments to create overloads, the visitors simply had no answers.

I don’t think we saw this level of tactical complexity ever attempted by Fernando Santos.

As impressive as the victory was, there is still so much room for improvement with players getting used to new combinations and the ideas imposed by Martínez.

Let’s not forget that Raphaël Guerreiro and Nuno Mendes are set to return from injury and Matheus Nunes will surely come into contention if his Manchester City move pays off. Renato Sanches?

Diogo Jota is clearly rusty but came alive in the second half, Gonçalo Ramos showing his predatory instincts in the box with two well taken goals.

Much of the talk will inevitably revolve around the victory coming in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, just as it was when Portugal smashed Switzerland 6-1 at the World Cup. I’m going to leave that narrative for the experts.


Line Up

Portugal (4-2-3-1): Diogo Costa - Nelson Semedo (João Cancelo 61’), Rúben Dias, Gonçalo Inácio, Diogo Dalot - Danilo Pereira (Rúben Neves 75’) Bruno Fernandes - Bernardo Silva (Ricardo Horta 61’), Diogo Jota, Rafael Leão (Otávio 75’) - Gonçalo Ramos (João Félix 61’).

Unused substitutes: Rui Patrício, José Sá, António Silva, Toti Gomes, João Palhinha, Vitinha, Pedro Neto


Gonçalo Inácio 12'         

Gonçalo Ramos 18'

Gonçalo Ramos 34'

Gonçalo Inácio 45+3'

Diogo Jota 57'

Ricardo Horta 67'

Diogo Jota 77'

Bruno Fernandes 83'

João Félix 88'