Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

Portugal booked their place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia with a 2-0 victory over Switzerland, leapfrogging their opponents in a winner-takes-all tie in Group B.

In another inspiring night for Portuguese football, the Seleção took the lead late on in the first-half through Johan Djourou's own goal, as Portugal moved into top-spot by half-time.

André Silva would seal Portugal's place in next summer's main event with the night's second goal, concluding a near-perfect qualification campaign that saw the European champions amass nine wins from ten games.

 

Birthday boy Fernando Santos reinforced his line-up with a host of big names, headlined by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal's quest to conquer Switzerland at a packed Estadio da Luz.

The hosts started on top and were given their first early sighting of Yann Sommer's goal through André Silva's deflected effort into the keeper's grasp, as the Swiss matched Portugal's intensity in a hard-fought, yet fruitless 30 minutes of play.

Bernardo Silva made the home crowd dream in the 32nd minute after the ball fell to his feet via a neat Moutinho touch following forceful play from Ronaldo on the edge of the box. The ex Monaco star set himself for a powerful half-volley from the left-hand side of the area that Sommer did well to tip over the bar.

Good chemistry

The clever combination play between Bernardo and Moutinho - long-time club teammates until the former's switch to Manchester City ahead of this season - was a feature of the match throughout.

Portugal's breakthrough would soon come, however, courtesy of Johan Djourou's misfortunes. Veteran full-back Eliseu made full use of his time in the final third when whipping a near-post cross into João Mário, with the Benfica's man's ball squeezing past both his teammate and the goalkeeper before the helpless Djourou eased the ball into his own net in the 41st minute.


Match reaction: "We'll go to World Cup with ambition of winning it" - Bernardo Silva


With little time for a response from 'La Nati', Santos' men held onto their slender lead before the referee's whistle for half-time, as the two nations emerged unchanged for the second period.

In the second half Portugal showed they had no intention of sitting on their lead, looking to up the pace, but it would be Switzerland who'd debut with the first shot on target on this occasion, as Rui Patrício followed the trajectory of Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick into his clutches.

Bernardo Silva handed Ronaldo his first smell of goal in the 55th minute, as the Real Madrid talisman took the pass infield onto his left foot before firing his effort someway wide of the target.

Silvas combine

The key remained with the new Manchester City signing, however, as a lovely Portugal move resulted in Bernardo finding space inside Switzerland's area to coolly feed André Silva at the back-post. The AC Milan striker was left free to double Portugal's lead with a tap-in in the 56th minute, edging the Seleção das Quinas closer to World Cup qualification.

Far from over, the Swiss came incredibly close to pulling a goal back in the 69th minute through Haris Seferovic, as Shaqiri's fierce shot was deflected wide of Patrício's far-post by the Benfica forward's outstretched leg.

A pair of changes for the visitors did little to shake up their fortunes, as Ronaldo neared Portugal's killer blow from Cédric Soares' cross before arriving marginally late in his attempt to guide an effort towards goal in the 75th minute.

Pepe was next in line with a tame effort on the turn from a corner, whereas Portugal's captain would again look to ink his name on the scoresheet before being dispossessed one-on-one by Sommer in the 79th minute.

Cutting in and out, Bernardo Silva threatened to land yet more goal action into stoppage time before hitting a shot wide, with two goals being more than enough to see Portugal over the line at full-time.

by Patrick Ribeiro

 

Portugal: Rui Patrício - Cédric Soares, Pepe, José Fonte, Eliseu (Vitorino Antunes, 67') - Bernardo Silva, William Carvalho, João Moutinho, João Mário (Danilo Pereira, 90') - André Silva (André Gomes, 77'), Cristiano Ronaldo

Switzerland: Yann Sommer - Stephen Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schär, Johan Djourou, Ricardo Rodriguez - Granit Xhaka, Remo Freuler, Blerim Džemaili (Steven Zuber, 66') - Xherdan Shaqiri, Haris Seferovic, Admir Mehmedi (Breel Embolo, 66')

Goals:

[1-0] Johan Djourou O.G., 41'

[2-0] André Silva, 56'