Portugal 3-0 Algeria
The European Champions conjured up a stellar display in Lisbon this evening in their last pre-World Cup friendly before they depart for Russia on Saturday. A brace from Gonçalo Guedes and a first international goal for the majestic Bruno Fernandes saw Portugal easily overcome a deflated Algerian side.
Cristiano Ronaldo played in his first pre-World Cup friendly since winning his third consecutive Champions League title and produced a stellar display. Perhaps more importantly, Portugal's attacking prowess matched their defensive cohesiveness - something which has been lacking of late.
The Seleção dominated possession in the early exchanges on a rainy Lisbon night but initially struggled to create clear-cut opportunities. Cristiano Ronaldo had the ball in the net nine minutes in, but his effort was correctly ruled offside by the linesman.
However, seventeen minutes in, a piercing, lofted ball from William Carvalho found Bernardo Silva, who cushioned his header down with the deftest of touches which was met by Gonçalo Guedes who finished expertly.
Ronaldo turns provider
Portugal proceeded to bamboozle the Algerian defence with the interchanging amongst the midfielders and forwards. And, thirty-two minutes in, the European Champions’ dominance was rewarded once more. Portugal worked the ball out to the left-hand side finding Ronaldo, who drove down the left before thumping in an exquisite first-time cross. The delivery was inch-perfect and Bruno Fernandes connected well with his header, duly tucking home his first Portugal goal.
The Seleção went into half-time two goals to the good while thwarting any sense of danger from the visitors. As the second-half resumed, Portugal remained on the front foot and continued to be a constant threat. Fifty-three minutes in, another chance went begging for Ronaldo, as he raced down the left-hand side of the six-yard box and prodded an effort goalwards. Salhi, Algeria’s goalkeeper, again came out on top, although Guedes was just inches away from tucking in the rebound.
Minutes later, the ball made its way to Portugal’s deadly left-hand side again and saw Raphaël Guerreiro whip in a teasing ball which was met by Gonçalo Guedes’ thumping, Ronaldo-like header for the third goal.
After a flurry of substitutions, the game lost its high-tempo nature and Portugal's dominance faded ever so slightly. However, Portugal had the ball in the net once more on 83 minutes. Bruno Fernandes whipped in a delightful cross to the unmarked João Mário who finished with the utmost ease. Yet, upon review by the VAR officials, Craig Pawson ruled the goal out for handball by Guedes in the build-up.
Guedes and Bruno Fernandes impress
The Seleção faithful had been praying for an out-and-out striker for years, and their prayers were answered when André Silva came onto the scene. However, after Guedes’ display tonight, it’s arduous to say whether or not Portugal truly need one given the fluid, cohesive manner in which their forwards played tonight.
Bruno Fernandes had barely featured in any of Portugal’s previously friendlies, meaning tonight’s fixture was particularly important for him. And, despite the pressure, he performed magnificently well. He was involved in almost all of Portugal’s best chances, made several darting runs into the Algerian box and made four key passes - the most of any player on the pitch this evening.
This was a very encouraging display from Portugal, and the performances of the aforementioned goal-scorers will certainly give Fernando Santos a thing or two to ponder in regards to Portugal’s starting eleven versus the Spaniards in eight days.
By Marino Peixoto
Portugal: Patrício, Cédric, Pepe, Alves (José Fonte 57'), Guerreiro (Mário Rui 55'), William Carvalho (Adrien Silva 64'), João Moutinho (João Mário 75'), Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva (Ricardo Quaresma 64') Gonçalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo (André Silva 74').
Algeria: Salhi, Ferhat, Mandi, Bensabaini, Benmoussa, Medjani (Boundjah 75'), Mahrez, Boukhanchouche (Benkhemassa 57'), Bentaleb, Brahimi, Slimani (Soudani 85').
[1-0] Gonçalo Guedes, 17'
[2-0] Bruno Fernandes, 37'
[3-0] Gonçalo Guedes, 55'