Portugal beat Finland 4-2 at Alvalade in first Euro 2024 warm-up match

Portugal played the first of three friendlies ahead of the European Championship in Germany starting later this month, beating Finland 4-2 in an entertaining match in Lisbon tonight.

In a controlled first half the Seleção built a 2-0 lead through goals by Rúben Dias and Diogo Jota (from the penalty spot).

Roberto Martínez made five changes at the break leading to a more anarchic second half, Bruno Fernandes and Finland’s Teemu Pukki both scoring beautifully taken braces for a 4-2 final score. 

Martínez experiments

With three friendlies, including tonight’s game, and two weeks separating Portugal from their first match at Euro 2024, coach Roberto Martínez selected an experimental XI. 

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José Sá, António Silva, Vitinha, João Neves, Francisco Conceição and Diogo Jota all began, with Vitinha and Jota having the best chance of forcing their way into the starting lineup in Germany.

A one-sided first half ensued, with the ball rarely leaving the half of the pitch the Seleção were attacking.

Rafael Leão and Nuno Mendes were seeing plenty of the ball on the left flank, the wing-back also stationing himself as an auxiliary attacker in-field for much of the first 45 minutes, Martínez repeating a tactic he used during qualifying.

Palhinha imperious

The busy Vitinha and João Neves controlled the pace of the game, with the dependable João Palhinha mopping up anything loose and proving to be a human wall whenever Finland had the temerity to venture forward.

Portugal went into the break two goals to the good, Rúben Dias heading in Vitinha’s perfectly delivered corner in the 18th minute and Diogo Jota converting a penalty on the stroke of half time won by the tenacity of Francisco Conceição. The diminutive Porto winger was constantly involved, although his decision-making was not always the best.

That changed after the break, Conceição providing two assists for Bruno Fernandes with simple sideways passes, the first goal a terrific shot into the top corner, the second a lethal low finish.

Pukki punishes Portugal

In between the Portugal goals Finland struck twice though, veteran striker Teemu Pukki finishing a breakaway goal with the utmost finesse to dink the ball over José Sá, then five minutes later producing another fine execution to complete an excellent passing move that sliced through Portugal’s defence.

It should be noted that Portugal’s defensive fragilities were exposed when Palhinha was not on the pitch, the Fulham enforcer hooked at half time.

With just one goal in it and 15 minutes remaining Finland had designs on a shock result, but the Conceição-Fernandes combo made sure of the victory for Portugal, the two-goal lead restored in the 84th minute. 

Loose finishing

Anything other than a Portugal win would have been a travesty, the Seleção missing a hatful of chances to score further goals in the second half. For another hit and miss experience with winnings at stake a visit to Australian Roulette77 is in order. Portuguese fans will be hoping their team’s traditional failing of missing clear chances does not rear its ugly head again in Germany.

João Cancelo, Gonçalo Inácio, Francisco Conceição (on three occasions) and Pedro Neto all missed very presentable chances to get their names on the scoresheet.

No matter, Roberto Martínez will be pleased with the run-out given to a large proportion of his squad, the good levels of invention and dynamism and no injuries picked up.

A sterner test awaits on Saturday when Portugal play Croatia at the Jamor national stadium.

By Tom Kundert, at the José Alvalade stadium

Portugal: José Sá, João Cancelo, Rúben Dias (Gonçalo Inácio, 46’), António Silva (Danilo Pereira, 73’), Nuno Mendes (Diogo Dalot, 46’), João Palhinha (Bruno Fernandes, 46’), João Neves, Vitinha, Rafael Leão (Pedro Neto, 46’), Diogo Jota (Gonçalo Ramos, 46’), Francisco Conceição

Unused substitutes: Rui Patrício, Diogo Costa, Bernardo Silva, Matheus Nunes, João Félix

Goals:

[1-0] Rúben Dias, 18’

[2-0] Diogo Jota (pen), 45 + 3’

[3-0] Bruno Fernandes, 56’

[3-1] Teemu Pukki, 72’

[3-2] Teemu Pukki, 77’

[4-2] Bruno Fernandes, 84’