Portugal 3-2 Slovakia match reaction
The Seleção made it seven wins from seven matches to qualify for Euro 2024 with three matches to spare in Porto yesterday.
Portugal coach Roberto Martínez and his players were naturally delighted, while recognising that it was not a perfect performance and that there is room for improvement.
PortuGOAL rounds up the match reaction.
Roberto Martínez, Portugal coach:
“Our first half was very good, we did our job with extraordinary clarity, we scored two goals, we were in complete control. But in the second half we played more with our hearts than our heads.
“The atmosphere at the Dragão was spectacular, the support we were given was very important and very good, but as a team we played with our heart in the second half. We deserved to win, but we need to play 90 minutes with our head and with the control we showed in the first half.
“In the first half we did what we had to do. In the second Slovakia, needing to win the game, took more risks and we tried to score every time we had possession of the ball, which did not help to have pauses in the game.
“The match was calling for longer spells of possession and more control. We need to make better decisions to control the game. Defending with the ball is an important aspect and when we had the ball we wanted to attack quickly, and then we conceded two goals. I don’t think the pitch and the rain were the reasons why the game changed so much in the second half.
“Can we win the European Championship? We need dreams for everything in life. But how you realise your dream is the most important thing. It’s a step-by-step process and we’re on the right track.”
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal captain:
“We played well, we won all our games. Since I’ve been playing for Portugal, or maybe in the whole history of the Seleção, I don’t think we’ve had such a straightforward qualification campaign.
“I’m not saying it was easy because it was us who made it easy. I hear a lot of people say it’s because of the group, but it was the same in other qualification campaigns. There are always two or three strong teams and at the end we always had to reach for the calculator. I don’t agree with those opinions out there.
“Portugal qualified because we played well, we have an excellent team, an excellent coach and we deserved to qualify. It’s no coincidence that we qualified early.”
Rúben Dias, Portugal defender:
“We’re all happy. The recent past has shown that it’s not easy to qualify, although we’ve always managed to do in the end. Now we will fight for top spot. Today’s victory was very important.
“Obviously, at 2-1 and 3-2 we lost the control we had when it was 2-0 and 3-1. The rain made us less comfortable playing at the back because of the risk of the ball stopping. Our second half could have been better, but we’re happy we’ve qualified and with Cristiano Ronaldo’s historical milestone, who is an example for the country.
“The Euro? With a team like ours anything is possible. What’s essential is the squad as a whole and to play as a team. We have to use the remaining games to get stronger so that we are ready when the time comes.”
Bruno Fernandes, Portugal midfielder:
“We wanted to qualify without conceding any goals, but unfortunately we conceded because in the second half we weren’t so well organised with the ball. We allowed them space, but they also scored two good goals. You have to give them credit.
“The objective has been achieved. The first half was amazing and in the second we could have scored more goals. Being at the Euro is another dream realised.
“Was qualification a stroll? I wouldn’t say it was easy because it wasn’t. We made the games easy by showing our quality. A lot of people say our opponents weren’t strong, but for all of us [players and staff] they had a lot of quality and always created problems for us. Even in Luxembourg it was complicated but we made it easy because we were clinical.”
Bernardo Silva, Portugal midfielder:
“It was a game of two very different halves. In the first half we were superior, we controlled the game well, we were secure with the ball and we built a lead. The second half was crazier and more uncontrolled. They made it difficult for us to bring out the ball and our pressure wasn’t so good. It was almost a game of Russian roulette; it could have gone either way.
“We’re pleased with the early qualification and our campaign which is nothing but wins. We have a lot of things to improve to do better than we’ve done in the last few tournaments, because we want to fight for the trophy.”
By Tom Kundert