A first half blitz in Zenica saw Portugal record a comfortable 5-0 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina in the European Championship qualifiers.
The Seleção took an early lead at Stadion Bilino Polje, João Félix’s shot handled in the box which saw Cristiano Ronaldo step up and converted the resulting penalty.
Roberto Martínez’s side made it 2-0 in the 20th minute when Ronaldo ran onto a Félix through ball and beat Ibrahim Šehić.
Gonçalo Inácio assisted Bruno Fernandes who produced a classy finish five minutes later, João Cancelo getting in on the act in the 32nd minute when he found the top corner.
Portugal scored the fifth in the 41st minute, Otávio racing clear and putting the ball on a plate for Félix who made no mistake.
Savo Milošević switched it up at the break which saw the hosts become competitive in the second half, but it was too little too late with the Seleção making it eight straight wins to continue their charge towards Germany.
Ronaldo at the double
Portugal wasted no time asserting their authority in Zenica, João Félix attempting to find Cristiano Ronaldo with Bruno Fernandes wide open and screaming for the ball.
Félix made amends in the 3rd minute when his speculative shot slammed into Adrian Leon Barišić’s hand and referee Halil Umut Meler pointed to the spot. Cristiano Ronaldo accepted another gift, sending Ibrahim Šehić the wrong way to notch his 126th international goal.
The Seleção should have doubled their advantage in the 18th minute when Otávio released Diogo Dalot, his cross picking out Bruno Fernandes who missed a sitter in front of goal.
It mattered little with Portugal extending their lead two minutes later. Félix charged through the middle of the pitch, executing a perfectly weighted pass for Ronaldo who beat the offside trap and dinked the ball over Šehić.
Carve up continues
There was no respite for Bosnia-Herzegovina who soon found themselves 3-0 down. Bruno Fernandes latched onto Gonçalo Inácio’s long ball, chested it down and smashed it past Šehić.
The hosts and their supporters inside Stadion Bilino Polje were shell shocked, but there was more damage to come as Portugal made it 4-0 in the 32nd minute.
Fernandes drove to the byline and presented Ronaldo with a perfect opportunity, he couldn’t connect cleanly but João Cancelo was on hand to race onto the loose ball and curl it into the top corner.
There was time for another goal four minutes before half-time. Dalot sent Otávio clear, the midfielder with plenty of time to weigh up his options and give the ball to Félix who finished with ease.
Bosnia-Herzegovina were booed off the pitch as Savo Milošević made changes at the break, switching to a back three with Ermedin Demirović and Amar Rahmanović replaced by Jusuf Gazibegović and Amir Hadžiahmetović.
Second half snooze fest
The second half was always unlikely to match the intensity and excitement dished up in the opening 45 minutes and so it proved, the crowd occupying themselves with a Mexican wave.
Roberto Martínez brought on Pedro Neto and Diogo Jota for Rafael Leão and Ronaldo, Milošević replacing Miroslav Stevanovic with Saïd Hamulić.
The home supporters showed their respect for Ronaldo by chanting his name, a nice touch before switching their attention to supporting Edin Džeko. Milošević made his final two changes in the 72nd minute when an injured Šehić was replaced by Nikola Vasilj and Adrian Barisic made way for Renato Gojković.
Chances were not being created so Martínez went to his bench again, Fernandes and Félix making way for Rúben Neves and Vitinha. He then handed João Neves his Seleção debut when he replaced Otávio with five minutes remaining, Portugal closing out a comfortable victory.
Joy to watch
The first half was a joy to watch and brought back memories of the 9-0 win against Luxembourg at Estádio do Algarve. Danilo replaced João Palhinha and replicated his role in that history making victory, spending a lot of time between Rúben Dias and Gonçalo Inácio with Portugal in possession.
Moving João Cancelo to left-back and Diogo Dalot to right-back paid dividends. Dalot found plenty of open space and was frequently receiving long balls from Cancelo who was often moving inside to offer additional passing lanes in midfield.
Bruno Fernandes spent most of his time on the right wing, Rafael Leão and João Félix switching between the left wing and supporting Cristiano Ronaldo up front. Otávio was effective in a deeper role, proving the back four with protection and showing why he continues to be called up.
Roberto Martínez has been able to implement a wide range of tactics and ideas during his eight straight victories in charge. Fluid formations and players frequently switching positions is not easy to execute, but the squad at his disposal are more than capable of it and clearly relishing the challenge.
Bosnia-Herzegovina are broken
Bosnia-Herzegovina were completely outplayed in the first half, Savo Milošević’s second half changes coming 45 minutes too late. It’s been a poor campaign for a nation that would have expected to be in contention to qualify for the European Championship, a dream that is now over with two games remaining.
Faruk Hadžibegić oversaw their 3-0 defeat to Portugal at Estádio da Luz and lasted one more match in charge, his contract terminated after three straight defeats. Meho Kodro was brought in and lasted just two games, Milošević becoming their third manager in charge of what has been a disastrous campaign.
The unprofessionalism displayed by the Bosnia-Herzegovina FA is evident. Ineffective and indecisiveness leadership at club level frequently results in negative performances on the pitch, and it’s much the same at international level.
Final thoughts from Zenica as Portugal continue their charge to Euro 2024. What happened to summer in the Algarve? Lony gone, it's freezing... pic.twitter.com/vfbp3CxYti— Matthew Marshall (@noobzcorp) October 16, 2023
Bosnia-Herzegovina (4-2-3-1) Sehic (Vasilj, 71’); Dedic, Barisic (Gojkovic, 72’), Hadzikadunic, Kolasinac; Cimirot, Pjanic, Stevanovic (Hamulic, 66’), Rahmanovic (Hadziahmetovic, 46’), Demirovic (Gazibegovic, 46’), Dzeko
Portugal (4-4-2) Diogo Costa; Diogo Dalot, Rúben Dias, Gonçalo Inácio, João Cancelo; Bruno Fernandes (Rúben Neves, 78’) Otávio (João Neves, 85’), Danilo, Rafael Leão (Pedro Neto, 65’); João Félix (Vitinha, 78’) Cristiano Ronaldo (Diogo Jota, 65’)
Unused substitutes: Rui Patrício, José Sá, António Silva, Nélson Semedo, João Palhinha, Bernardo Silva, Gonçalo Ramos
[0-1] Cristiano Ronaldo (pen), 4’
[0-2] Cristiano Ronaldo, 20’
[0-3] Bruno Fernandes, 24’
[0-4] João Cancelo, 32’
[0-5] João Félix, 42’