Portugal 5-0 Gibraltar

The Seleção played their first match since being crowned European Champions tonight, beating a limited Gibraltar side 5-0 in a friendly match at the Estádio do Bessa in Porto. Captain Nani scored a brace, with João Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Pepe also hitting the target.

Portugal rarely got out of second gear, and unsurprisingly it was the debutants, João Cancelo and André Silva, and a player who did not go to France, Bernardo Silva, who were most motivated and most caught the eye.

Second-half substitute Bernardo was particularly lively, producing two sumptuous assists in addition to finding the net himself.

Fernando Santos stated before the match that he would be giving more minutes to players who had not played much or at all for their clubs this season, which explains why goalkeeper Eduardo and centre-back Bruno Alves were in the starting line-up. João Cancelo was given his debut at right-back, and Stade de France hero Eder also started as Portugal lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Nani and Quaresma on the flanks.

As expected, the Champions of Europe (an epithet we can use for at least the next four years!) dominated proceedings from start to finish. Nevertheless, few clear-cut chances were created in the first 45 minutes. Nani opened the scoring on 27 minutes as he volleyed in a clever Bruno Alves cross.

Eder came close to doubling the lead twice, hitting the post on one occasion and blazing over an open goal shortly afterwards. It was noticeable that while in the past Eder would have been the recipient of boos for such a glaring miss, the packed crowd in Porto made a point of applauding and supporting the striker despite the wasted chance.

Festive atmosphere

Indeed, the festive atmosphere in the stands, including spontaneous renditions of the national anthem, was the high point of the first half, as an uninspired Portugal failed to make their superiority pay against such weak opponents, although Cancelo's forward bursts were a feature of the opening period. 

Santos switched things around in the second half, bringing on Adrien, André Silva (another debutant) and Bernardo Silva and reverting to a 4-4-2 with the Porto striker and Nani playing as a fluid front two in a similar fashion to what we saw at Euro 2016. The improved dynamism was immediately noticeable, with Bernardo bringing his fine club form for Monaco into the international arena.

The silky-skilled midfielder was behind a lovely second goal as he dinked an inviting cross onto Nani's head, which Portugal's captain on the night headed in athletically to double the lead on 55 minutes.

Cancelo thunderbolt

Twenty minutes later a three-goal burst gave the score-line a more realistic look. First the lively André Silva slipped in Cancelo, who capped a highly encouraging first international with a rasping shot into the roof of the net off the underside of the crossbar from a tight angle.

Bernardo then got among the goals with the help of Gibraltar goalkeeper Jamie Robba, who let his weak shot squirm into the net, and the midfielder then produced another peach of a cross for Pepe to head in goal number five.

The extremely bright displays of Bernardo and Cancelo will have given Santos food for thought regarding his next starting XI, although the coach was quick to point out that Portugal's opening World Cup qualifier against Switzerland in Basel on Tuesday will be a whole different challenge.

by Tom Kundert

Portugal: Eduardo, João Cancelo, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Raphael Guerreiro, João Mário, William Carvalho, João Moutinho, Nani, Éder, Ricardo Quaresma

Subs used: André Silva, Adrien, Bernardo Silva, Rafa, Eliseu, André Gomes

Goals:

[1-0] Nani, 27'

[2-0] Nani, 55'

[3-0] João Cancelo, 73'

[4-0] Bernardo Silva, 76'

[5-0] Pepe, 79'

 

Comments (4)

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Nani always does better when Cristiano is not around.

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Liked what I saw from Andre Silva and my bet is that he will overtake Eder in the primary striker role very soon. All i gotta say is this team is totally stacked. Portugal can play any formation.. either 4-3-3 like today with Nani, A.Silva, and...

Liked what I saw from Andre Silva and my bet is that he will overtake Eder in the primary striker role very soon. All i gotta say is this team is totally stacked. Portugal can play any formation.. either 4-3-3 like today with Nani, A.Silva, and CR.. or 4-4-2 with CR (height advantage) playing off Silva and Nani on the wing (can't see it atm if he keeps up the scoring) but still believe his crosses are most accurate and he backtracks excellently too. A midfield with Adrien, Mario, Moutinho, William, Bernardo, Gomes, Rafa, Danilo. Holy smokes our depth is insane. And another attack minded right back Cancelo to compete with Cedric. I know the defense is aging and could become problematic as we progress through WC qualifying but that can only point to more open matches with attacking and thrilling football. Euro Cup? Check. Now it's time to take down the world cup and in style!

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Watched the game yesterday and yes, even if it was just Gibraltar, was happy to see Portugal in action again. I am curious about the heatmap for this game, I feel it will show Portugal basically camping in the Gibraltar half for what, 75/80 out...

Watched the game yesterday and yes, even if it was just Gibraltar, was happy to see Portugal in action again. I am curious about the heatmap for this game, I feel it will show Portugal basically camping in the Gibraltar half for what, 75/80 out of 90 minutes? The final scoreline is not realistic at all though, it could and should have been 11-0. Nani, Eder, Joao Mario... Saw so many "has to be a goal" chances going wrong(AGAIN haha). But yeah since this was a friendly (and against a minnow at that), can't blame the players for not having the motivation to make every shot count.

I think the highlights of the match were Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and also Guerreiro's actions. Enjoyed their pace, energy and skill. Can't wait to see what our World Cup squad will look and (more importantly) play like! I am looking very forward to the WC qualifiers!

"the Champions of Europe (an epithet we can use for at least the next four years!)" > made me smile hehe!

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Portugal looked far more incisive after switching to Santos' preferred 4-4-2, especially when Bernardo was given the license to drift inside from his position on the right wing. Andre Silva had a decent debut, but I would still stick with the...

Portugal looked far more incisive after switching to Santos' preferred 4-4-2, especially when Bernardo was given the license to drift inside from his position on the right wing. Andre Silva had a decent debut, but I would still stick with the more experienced Eder alongside Nani against the Swiss. Joao Mario and Bernardo can alternate on the wings and either Joao Moutinho or Adrien can partner William in the midfield. While Joao Cancelo was superb in yesterday's match, let's not forget that he was up against the weakest national team in Europe. Cedric may not be as dynamic as Cancelo, but at the moment, I think he's the better all-around right-back.

Therefore, I would opt for this 11 against Switzerland:

---------------------------------------------------Eder--------------------------Nani-------------------------------------------------------
---------------Mario-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Bernardo--------------------------
------------------------------------------------------William----------Adrien--------------------------------------------------------
Guerreiro----------------------------------Fonte-------------------------Pepe----------------------------------Cedric
------------------------------------------------------------Patricio------------------------------------------------------------------------

Andre Silva, Quaresma, Rafa, Moutinho, and Danilo are all excellent options off the bench.

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