Portugal beat Group A 3-1 at the Luxembourg National Stadium on Tuesday night. Diego Jota equalized after Gerson Rodriguez led the hosts. Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Palinia later widened the gap.
Portugal, who started the qualifying campaign with a suicide goal against Azerbaijan, went on to score two goals against Serbia in the next match to draw 2-2. The ball crossed the goal line at the end of the match, but Ronaldo reacted angrily to the referee’s failure to score, throwing his arm band before the last whistle, leaving the Portugal coach dissatisfied with the lack of VAR, and then UEFA’s statement – all discussed and criticized.
This performance against Luxembourg will definitely give Ronaldo more confidence in the way forward. Throughout the match they took 20 shots on goal, 11 of which were on target. The gap could have been widened if the opposing goalkeeper and the crossbar hadn’t blocked the opportunity themselves.
Although Portugal was ahead in possession of the ball, they could not take advantage of the attack in the beginning. The team can take the first shot for the goal in the 24th minute. Ronaldo’s free kick from a difficult angle was easily returned by the host goalkeeper Maurice. Four minutes later, he blocked the net with a low shot from Renato Sanchez near Joao Cancello.
In the next minute, Luxembourg went ahead with the surprise of the 2016 Euro champions. Forward Rodriguez sent the ball into the net with a great diving head in the D-box on a teammate’s cross.
In the last few minutes of the first half, Portugal increased the pressure to defend the hosts. In the 43rd minute, Morris sent Sanchez’s shot from outside the D-box over the crossbar with one hand. One minute later, Ronaldo missed a good opportunity. The Juventus forward could not head properly after getting Mendes’ cross in the face of a six-yard box.
The visitors finally returned to parity shortly before the break. Pedro Neto, who was replaced by Joao Felix without an injury a short time ago, increased the cross by cutting one on the left side of the D-box. Liverpool forward Jota found the address by jumping into the six yard box.
Ronaldo led the team in the fifth minute of the second half. The five-time Footballer of the Year found the net in a volley that jumped a little in front of a six-yard box at Cancello’s cross from the right.
Ronaldo scored 103 goals for the national team. The 36-year-old has taken another step towards Ali Dai’s record of 109 goals in international football.
The gap could have increased after two minutes. The goalkeeper returned Mendes’ low shot with great efficiency. In the 59th minute, Jota’s head hit the crossbar.
Ronaldo wasted an easy opportunity in the 8th minute. He got a pass from his teammate. The only obstacle in front is the goalkeeper. But Ronaldo shot along with the goalkeeper. He later sent the ball into the net but did not score due to offside.
Palinia, who was substituted in the second half, made the scoreline 3-1 in the 80th minute. He scored his first goal for the national team with a header from Neto’s corner. With four minutes left in the allotted time, home defender Maxim fouled Sanchez and was shown a second yellow card.
Portugal are top of the group with two wins in three matches and six points in one draw. Serbia, who beat Azerbaijan 2-1 in the other match, are two with equal points.
Luxembourg has 3 points in two matches. Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan have yet to open the scoring in an equal match.
Belgium beat Belarus 6-0 in Group E of the FIFA rankings. The Netherlands beat Gibraltar 6-0 in Group G.