Portugal 2-2 Mexico

Just when it looked as if Portugal might actually secure victory despite a predominantly listless display, Mexico snatched a late draw courtesy of a Hector Moreno header in stoppage time.

Cédric had given Portugal the lead with less than five minutes to play with his first ever goal for Portugal to build upon Quaresma's first half goal when set up by Ronaldo. But it wasn't enough as the defence eventually succumbed to Mexico's relentless pursuit of the game.

In keeping with his policy of squad rotation, Santos made several key changes to the side that beat Latvia 3-0 in World Cup qualifying nine days prior. Nani regained his place alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at the expense of André Silva, who had scored seven goals in his first eight caps for Portugal. Pepe also got the nod despite having not played in over 2 months due to injury while Quaresma started in a midfield quartet that again had no room for Bernardo Silva.

Mexico began well in possession while Portugal eased into a defensive posture. Nani surrendered an early free kick in a dangerous position on the right, but Guardado's effort struck the wall and went out for a goal kick. But through the first quarter hour Mexico threatened very little despite forcing Portugal to play the role of spectator.

Quaresma sent Portugal's first shot of the match well wide of Ochoa's goal, and Mexico resumed their possession dominance as the Seleção struggled to connect even the simplest of passes. But despite their poor start to the match, Portugal thought they had the opening goal in the 21st minute. A poor clearance following a Ronaldo free kick found its way back to Portugal's captain, who dispatched a thunderous effort on the half volley that required both the keeper and crossbar to keep out. The rebound was crossed back into the box and turned into the net by Pepe only to be ruled out for offside following video review.

Portugal were playing with greater confidence now and Cédric got on the end of a Quaresma throughball down the right that Ochoa did well to smother. At the other end, Layun placed a free kick wide as Mexico labored to create meaningful opportunities. A William cross towards Nani had to be tipped over by Ochoa after being inadvertently directed towards goal by a Mexican defender.

Ronaldo rights the ship

But then Portugal's captain stepped up and delivered even as the team around him struggled for a foothold in the match. Salcedo badly misjudged a cross towards Ronaldo on the left wing allowing him to bear down on goal. Just when it looked like he had lost control, Ronaldo paused and threaded a wonderful ball to an unmarked Quaresma in the right side of the penalty area. The Besiktas winger took a quintessentially cheeky touch inside to dummy Ochoa then slipped the ball into the empty net to give Portugal the lead in the 35th minute.

Portugal nearly had two minutes later after a brilliant exchange of play between Nani, Ronaldo and Quaresma. Nani's place was touched into the path of Ronaldo with the quality of backheel control that only Ronaldo can consistently perform outside the training ground, and Quaresma eventually placed his shot just the wrong side of the post.

Instead it was Mexico who equalized after a rather out of character defensive error by Raphael Guerreiro. The fullback completely whiffed on his attempt to clear a simple cross into the box allowing Vela to pass the ball directly onto the head of Chicharito and Mexico's all-time leading goalscorer made no mistake.

Minutes later Guerreiro was beaten again down the left by Vela and Portugal were lucky to see Chicharito send his shot well over the bar as the teams would go into the halftime interval with the score deadlocked at 1-1.

Mexico resumed their active pass and press routine as the second half began, and Portugal continued looking short on answers. Santos made a double change in the 58th minute withdrawing Nani for Gelson and Moutinho for Adrien Silva.

Both sides struggled to create chances although Quaresma just overhit a trivela cross for Ronaldo to head towards goal. Ronaldo won a free kick in the 72nd minute on the right but Quaresma's poor delivery about summed up Portugal's afternoon. Mexico threw on veteran striker Oribe Peralta to add more attacking momentum, but as their press faded, Portugal began to see a little more of the ball. 

Portugal substitutions make their mark

Quaresma struck a half volley straight at Ochoa in the 81st minute after good work by Ronaldo and André Gomes. But it would be his last action of the match as he was substituted for André Silva. The FC Porto striker wasted little time in getting involved drawing a great save from Ochoa with a header towards the far post. 

Minutes later, fellow substitute Gelson was released down the right by Ronaldo and the Sporting winger's pace allowed him to get in a cross that Cédric finished beyond Ochoa courtesy of a healthy deflection to give Portugal a crucial lead in the 85th minute. Mexico should have been level not more than a minute later but Chicharito fluffed his lines 8 yards from goal.

The excitement of the final quarter hour continued when Gelson very nearly increased the lead at the other end after being teed up by André Silva following a fast counter.  But Mexico found their equalizer in stoppage time when Moreno turned in Jonathan dos Santos' corner kick.

It was a fair result in the end as Mexico simply did not take advantage of their superior possession. Portugal will feel as if they really should have won despite a disjointed performance in which Mexico's withering press stifled them for at least the first hour of the match. 

Fernando Santos' starting midfield simply could not match the tempo of their Mexican counterparts but it must be said his choice of substitutions very nearly secured victory. André Gomes, who was poor in the first half, caused far more havoc in the second with direct running and several decent crosses from the left side of midfield. Even so, the mystery of Bernardo Silva's absence continues, and Portugal will certainly have to demonstrate more cohesion in midfield and more intelligent defending to survive in this tournament.

Portugal next face hosts Russia in Moscow on Wednesday needing to win to have a more realistic chance of progressing from Group A.

 

by Nathan Motz

Lineups

Mexico: Ochoa, Salcedo (Araujo, 67'), Reyes, J. dos Santos, Layun, Jimenez (Peralta, 79'), Vela (G. dos Santos, 58'), Hernandez, Moreno, Herrera, Guardado

Portugal: Rui Patrício, Cedric Soares, Fonte, Pepe, Guerreiro, William, Quaresma (Silva, 82'), Moutinho, (Adrien, 58'), André Gomes, Nani (Gelson, 58’), Ronaldo

 

Goals:

[1-0] Quaresma, 35’

[1-1] Hernandez, 42'

[2-1] Cédric, 86'

[2-2] Moreno, 90 + 1'

 

Comments (34)

  1. Tony

Scandalous effort from the Team, especially Ronaldo.

If they don't want to be there they should go home now.

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  1. Jon

I just don't get what Santos has against Bernardo Silva... it's ridiculous at this point.

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  1. Ash

Let's all be honest. When we saw the starting 11 we all knew we weren't going to win. Typical Santos performance. Bore you to death and hope for some magic from Ronaldo. Not winning this game is 100% Santos' fault. His cowardice cost us. In what...

Let's all be honest. When we saw the starting 11 we all knew we weren't going to win. Typical Santos performance. Bore you to death and hope for some magic from Ronaldo. Not winning this game is 100% Santos' fault. His cowardice cost us. In what world is dropping your most inform striker a good idea for Nani who had a below average season. Then he starts the same turtle like midfield which had trouble against Latvia and thinks it's going to work against a superior opponent. The game plan here was hoof the ball up to Ronaldo and pray he does something. Since the Euro the only good opponent we've faced was Switzerland and we lost. Beating teams like Cyprus, Andorra, Faroe Islands 4-0 means nothing if you can't do it against semi decent opposition.
Yeah, we won the Euro with Santos but let's not forget we tied every game except one. That's not going to cut it anymore.
Guerreiro played his worst game in a Portugal shirt. Fonte brought his terrible West Ham performance to the national team. This defense has to hold up for another year and that's terrifying. And our options for CB off the bench shouldn't even have been called up in the first place. Yikes.
Oh also, I thought we had all agreed last year, Moutinho shouldn't start games anymore. His best days are behind him and he should only be coming in as a sub to help secure the result. We started dominating in midfield when he and Gomes were dropped for Adrién and Sanches.
I've said this before and I'll say it again. Santos will become Bento 2.0 with picking out of form, old, slow players instead of the best and most inform players. We can either go into the World Cup having a good chance or it becoming a disaster like the last one
I still expect us to get out of this group but now instead of having an opportunity to rest players against New Zealand we won't be able to.
We MUST start our best players
--------Rui Patrício------
Cédric---Fonte---Pepe---Guerreiro
-----------William----------
Bernardo---Adrién---Pizzi
------Silva---------Ronaldo----

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  1. Nelson

@Tony - did you watch the game????

Ronaldo was one of the few Portuguese players to give a good account of himself today. Both in terms effort and skill.

Quaresma wasted many opportunities with poor crossing today.

Guerriero, who I love,...

@Tony - did you watch the game????

Ronaldo was one of the few Portuguese players to give a good account of himself today. Both in terms effort and skill.

Quaresma wasted many opportunities with poor crossing today.

Guerriero, who I love, was awful today both in defence and going forward.

Joao Moutinho and Nani were invisible.

Gomes and William were okay but uninspired.

Fonte and Patricio should have done better on the second goal.

Cedric and Pepe were solid today.

I think there starting XI was all wrong. I had to do a double take when I saw the lineup at first. I double checked to make sure it wasn't a joke. I don't think you can have Nani and Quaresma on at the same time. Joao Moutinho is good in spurts at this point in his career but there is a reason why Bernardo Started over him at Monaco.

For the Russia game I'd like the following
Ronaldo, Andre
Adrien, William, Bernardo, Nani,
Guerreiro, Pepe, fonte, Cedric
Patricio

While our defence was poor today, I don't see it as a systemic issue. I don't think Guerriero or Fonte have ever played that bad for Portugal. Let's chaulk that up to simply being a poor game. We need more creativity than working everything down the wings and that's the importance of Bernardo.

We still have this in our own hands and it wouldn't be Portugal if they didn't make it interesting!

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  1. Boston

Portugal used to be known for its flair and fast attacking football. Santos turned us into one of the most boring national teams I've ever seen. It's pathetic.

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  1. Kenny

What's the point in bringing Bernardo if he's not going to play? Fernando Santos should have just left him off the team to enjoy his summer after a long season if this is the crap he wants to pull.

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  1. Paulo

Why has no one mentioned Andre Gomes' performance today? He was fucking dreadful from start to finish (sorry for the language),other than one good cross which Andre Silva almost converted. He can't be in the Starting 11 when he's playing at this...

Why has no one mentioned Andre Gomes' performance today? He was fucking dreadful from start to finish (sorry for the language),other than one good cross which Andre Silva almost converted. He can't be in the Starting 11 when he's playing at this standard, shameful.

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  1. Felipe Dinis

Defence was poor today. Gurreiro who is class had a poor game. Fonte was poor today. I thought andre gomes was actually okay, but bernando silva needs to start to add that spark in our team. Quaresma played well in general. Nani should be back on...

Defence was poor today. Gurreiro who is class had a poor game. Fonte was poor today. I thought andre gomes was actually okay, but bernando silva needs to start to add that spark in our team. Quaresma played well in general. Nani should be back on the bench. Andre silva should start too.
Will see the starting 11 next game

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  1. SupremoGino

Well, where do we start? The starting line up was a joke. The trio of Quaresma, Ronaldo, Nani has never worked well historically.. how could Santos assume it would work well today? It could've been an option maybe 5 years ago when Portugal...

Well, where do we start? The starting line up was a joke. The trio of Quaresma, Ronaldo, Nani has never worked well historically.. how could Santos assume it would work well today? It could've been an option maybe 5 years ago when Portugal actually NEEDED a striker and they all still had their explosive pace combined with their inherent trickery.. I often wondered how good that line could've been since they are the best wingers Portugal has ever produced apart from Luis Figo.. but it never truly got a chance when the time mattered and now the youngest is 30. They don't have the pace like they used to nor can they press the ball or track back and that leaves a lot of burden on our mids to press and retain the ball.

Before I get to our mids, like I said we always struggled to have a quality striker. Not anymore! Andre Silva has already proven to be a very suitable striker. So why the hell isn't he starting in this match? Now our mids to make matters worse. We always used to say when Moutinho plays well, Portugal plays well. This statement no longer holds true. Moutinho doesn't have the same fight anymore and he has become irrelevant to our success. I don't notice those quality through balls anymore, and he seems to be anonymous most of the match. William adds muscle but nothing else. Honestly, I think Miguel Veloso for his finesse ball handling offered more to the NT than William. Portugal is attacking team, it's in our DNA and I believe it's in our best interest to live or die by this philosophy. The best form of defense is offense. If we play a DM that offers zero attacking wise, forget playing him at all.

Andre Gomes who has become the regular scapegoat for most of the posters on this site is once again overly tasked to do way too much. He is expected to chase everything and drive the ball forward. Even though he had a sub-par game, (he did beat one man and start a fast counter break that didn't quite work out) you can't really say he did any worse than his midfield companions and yes Bernardo should play and maybe he's best in Gomes position but right now Gomes brings the energy that Moutinho or William don't. So I say try fitting them both with maybe Adrien.. or else Bernardo, like Gomes will be tasked with doing too much. One of Quaresma/Gelson on the wing (Nani sub) with Ronaldo and Silva up top. If Bernardo and Gomes do play together, then Quaresma should start for his crossing and cohesion with Ronaldo. If not, obviously Gelson is needed to increase our energy levels. Balance is key and I think this would be the best balanced team we have available.

Raphael was a horror show today, he needs to stop taking risks that could leave us in a vulnerable position. Fonte also sucked, Patricio perhaps should've came out and challenged on that last minute goal. All in all not surprised. Mexico out hustled us to every loose ball and this will continue until Santos is willing to make some changes. I see Santos is starting to get on some peoples' nerves and I understand why after today. For a coach who said the door was open for all, he meant just that getting us to Euro 2016. Never had any personal vendetta or favoritism towards a player. That being said we also see him trust the vets to get the job done but it's getting a bit stagnant now. We clearly have some better players on the bench that he should be playing. If it takes losing this tournament to get them acclimated that would give us a greater chance to win the big one next year (God willing we qualify) than so be it. P.S Not a fan of the referee video review center. It takes the air out of the game. I'm glad FIFA is trying to be more transparent but what are linesman for? If they can't do their job right, hire a better linesman.

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  1. scotty

I really don't don't understand...
Monaco's best player this past season being on the bench for Monaco's third choice midfielder ....
Does Nani give half of his salary to Santos ???
worst Portugal game in a while...Ronaldo was left alone upfront...

I really don't don't understand...
Monaco's best player this past season being on the bench for Monaco's third choice midfielder ....
Does Nani give half of his salary to Santos ???
worst Portugal game in a while...Ronaldo was left alone upfront and why was Andre Silva on the bench ,Santos must have smoked weed before the game

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