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.
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.
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
[1-0] Nani, 27'
[2-0] Nani, 55'
[3-0] João Cancelo, 73'
[4-0] Bernardo Silva, 76'
[5-0] Pepe, 79'