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WC Qualification Europe
September 7, 2012
• Stade Josy Barthel, Lëtzebuerg (Luxembourg)
Referee: K. Tohver
• Attendance: 8125
D. Alves Da Mota 13'
Cristiano Ronaldo 28'
Hélder Postiga 54'
For Bento and his players, it could have been worse after Da Mota's glorious strike. In the end, the goal seemed to wake them up, and were it not for wasteful finishing, the Portuguese could have been home and dry long before the end. As it stands, both sides will be relatively pleased with tonight's game.
Luxembourg have plenty of positives to take away for their future qualifiers - they battled well throughout, threatened Patricio's goal, and in Daniel Da Mota, have a real forward threat. They'll need to tighten up at the back if they stand any chance of qualifying for Brazil though.
Luc Holtz will be pleased with the effort shown by his Luxembourg side, but in the end, they were undone but two moments of desperately poor defending. Joubert was magnificent in goal, but you simply cannot allow players like Ronaldo and Postiga the freedom of the penalty area to finish chances like they did tonight.
90' + 3'
And it's over! Portugal overcome a big scare to win 2-1. It could have been much, much more, but in the end, Paulo Bento will be happy with the three points after a slow start for his side.
90' + 2'
A sweeper keeper there, Joubert tackling Postiga in the air 40 yards out there. Final few seconds and Portugal have a free-kick from the left, and that must surely be it...
90' + 1'
Portugal a whisker away from victory there, Pepe finding Ronaldo on the left, but Postiga cannot convert the cross.
Into injury time here, Luxembourg need something special from Deville up front...
Portugal are stretching Luxembourg on the break now as the home side search for an equaliser. Don't be surprised if they add a third in the final few moments of this match.
Yellow Card Silvestre Varela
The play is slowing down, but Holtz is shouting encouragement to his side from the touchline. Jaenisch is left in a heap after a poor challenge from Valera. It's a cliche, but it was definitely a striker's challenge, clumsily lunging in high but Jaenisch looks ok now.
Ronaldo lifts yet another chipped through ball over Joubert, but the angles mean that he cannot retrieve the ball, as it runs harmlessly to Luxembourg defenders. Nice idea, but that third goal is still evading them.
D. da Mota
If Luxembourg are to get anything, they'll have to do it without Da Mota, who has just been substituted. He leaves the pitch with a great goal to his name, but it may all be in vain unless his team mates can salvage something.
Yellow Card Bruno Alves
A terribly clumsy tackle by Bruno Alves on Joachim there, and the defender is lucky to escape with a booking as he slips while sliding in from behind, getting none of the ball and a lot of calf. It's getting a little heated now.
Portugal dictating the play but still cannot find that killer goal. Ronaldo blazes a cut-back about 30 yards over the bar, which won't help his mood at all.
Luxembourg are looking a little ragged now after chasing the ball for so long, and the game will surely open up now for the Portuguese. But it's still only 2-1, and anything is possible with only a goal separating the sides.
Meireles leaves the field after a decent performance to be replaced by Custodio. He would have liked to get some more minutes under his belt, but the new Fenerbache signing will still be pleased.
The paced has slowed slightly after a frenetic 20 minutes, but Portugal will want to put this to bed before Luxembourg can settle again.
Joachim almost equalises! A smart turn and snap shot brings out a strong stop from Patricio, who punches away the effort. The Portugal goalkeeper hasn't had a lot to do, but needed to be alert there.
Moutinho is enjoying himself in midfield, finding team mates with lovely long passes, and Postiga almost adds another, only to be denied by Joubert. And then Nani blazes over from 20 yards with a presentable chance.
It's a shame for Luxembourg as both goals feel like real gifts to the Portuguese, but when you look at their recent record, perhaps the mistakes are no real surprise. Portugal were sluggish to start, but are in the mood now.
Assist Joao Moutinho
Goal Hélder Postiga
Goal!!! Postiga gets it right this time. With his back to goal and no defenders around, the striker takes Moutinho's wonderful chipped pass on his head, turns, and slots into the bottom right corner. Too easy.
With the introduction of the speedy Valera, Luxembourg have been torn between playing the offside trap and sitting deep, and succeeding at neither. This is causing huge gaps in their back line, and Holtz will have to sort it out quickly.
Postiga should put Portugal ahead here, but his firs touch is poor, and Joubert gratefully collects with the defence nowhere to be found. They're getting closer...
Joubert athletically stops Postiga's cut-back from reaching waiting Portugal forwards. He's going to be one busy goalkeeper tonight. A minute later, Ronaldo wins a corner - they simply cant deal with his explosive pace.
Ronaldo is denied by Joubert once more! The Real Madrid striker is through on goal, but his low strike is turned away by the foot of the goalkeeper, who has been impressive so far.
Da Mota twists and turns down the left, and is body-checked by two Portugal players to win a free-kick, but it comes to nothing. For Luxembourg to get anything from this, he'll need another inspired 45 minutes.
Valera is caught offside, but is looking to stretch Luxembourg down the right. Expect a few more attacks through him before this game is out.
The teams are out again, and Portugal are making a change. Miguel Veloso is replaced by Silvestre Valera.
While Holtz's men looked dangerous on the counter, with the pace and touch of Da Mota a particular threat, Portugal will be confident that they can win this if they retain the tempo they finished the half with.
Luxembourg will be delighted with their display in the first half. A stunning strike from Da Mota earned them an unexpected lead, but poor judgement from Gerson led to an easy equaliser for Portugal, which settled their nerves.
It's last-dtch defending as Portugal hunt for a goal to put them in the lead, but stoic resistance from Luxembourg gets them through the next wave of attacks as Ronaldo's cross-shot is flicked away by Joubert. And that's half-time!
Schnell clumsily trips Ronaldo, giving Portugal a chance to whip in a free-kick from a dangerous area, but it's wasted. Holtz's men will have to take care not to give away needless chances like that around their area as the game wears on - Portugal are as gifted in the air as they are on the ground.
Da Mota is working hard, and earns another corner. He couldn't have wished for a better start to his World Cup qualifying campaign - the strike for his goal earlier on was one of real quality.
Luxembourg earn a corner to alleviate some pressure. They'll be looking for that half-time whistle, but another goal would set up the second half beautifully.
Portugal camped in Luxembourg's half now, with Joubert smartly turning away another effort. In truth, he was a tad lucky as he pushed it up into the danger area in front of his goal, but nobody was on hand to tuck the rebound home.
Postiga denied by a great stop! Nani dinks in a cross which the forward powerfully heads towards the top corner, but Joubert is equal to it. Moments later he flaps at a cross and loses it, but a defender is on hand to clear.
Ronaldo hits the post! He's hungry for more goals, and was a whisker away after Meireles lifts a great through ball over the defence. Ronaldo takes it on his knee, but scuffs his volley into the ground, the ball bouncing away and off the post. A better connection would have put his side in front.
Gerson was at fault, dallying when deciding where to play it, and in the end, he simply lost out to quicker legs. Ronaldo's celebration was muted, but then again, being 1-0 down to Luxembourg won't have put him in the best of moods anyway.
Assist Joao Moutinho
Goal C. Ronaldo
Goal!!! Catastrophic defending by Luxembourg, as they try to play their way out of defence, but are dispossessed on the edge of the box. The ball is fed to Ronaldo, who has the simplest of finished into the corner. After all their hard work, it's such a soft goal for Luxembourg to give away,
Portugal really pressing now, with Ronaldo having a shot blocked in the area after good work from Coentrao down the left. They're getting restless, and want that equaliser. But again, Luxembourg look exciting on the break, with plenty of space in behind Portugal's midfield.
Good stop by Joubert, as he claws away Ronaldo's free-kick above his head. It was a standard save, softer and more central than most of Ronaldo's usual efforts, but will have done well for the goalkeeper's confidence.
Ronaldo blasts another free-kick into the wall, but it's deemed to be a handball, so has another chance from 25 yards...
Portugal are looking out to the right for Nani to work his magic. He's had a mixed start to the season with Manchester United, but will surely relish the chance against relative minnows tonight.
Luxembourg's Jaenisch is in the wars already with a bloody face. It's going to be a proper battle for the rest of this match now, but his side look more than up for it.
A last-ditch tackle from Schnell stops Meireles from equalising for the Portuguese. The keeper would have saved anyway, but great defending on the slide.
Ronaldo leaps and misses a header - make no mistake, he'll have to be marked more effectively if Luxembourg are to maintain this lead.
Portugal have really struggled to get into this game so far, and Luxembourg are good value for their lead. Bento must be fuming.
Assist Aurelien Joachim
Goal D. da Mota
GOAL!!! A shock lead for Luxembourg as Daniel Da Mota takes it down beautifully on the left, takes aim, and spanks it in the top right corner. No chance of saving it, a top class finish, and now we have a game on our hands...
Schnell looks to have a long throw on him, so that could make it interesting around Portugal's - well, anywhere in their half really.. But in moments like this, it's always good to have a rock like Pepe at the back.
What's this, Luxembourg are looking dangerous on the counter! They're moving the ball about nicely too, and have a shot that spins and swirls away to no real harm. But it may not be as easy as first thought for Bento tonight.
...and he whacks it straight into the wall. Disappointing, but definitely worth a go tonight.
Ooh, Cristiano Ronaldo has a free-kick from around 40 yards...
Early Luxembourg attack down the left gets the crowd tooting on their horns, but the cross comes to nothing unfortunately.
The teams are out, the anthems are being played, and the home crowd seem jolly. It's almost time for kick-off.
Luxembourg: Joubert, Blaise, Schnell, Bettmer, Da Mota, Payal, Joachim, Bukvic, Mutsch, Jaenisch, Gerson. Subs: De Sousa, Hoffman, Leweck, Collette, Oberweis, hilipps, Jans, Deville.
Portugal: Patricio, Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Coentrao, Meireles, Veloso, Moutinho, Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo. Subs: Eduardo, Custodio, Pizzi, Amorim, Oliveira, Costa, Coelho, Micael, Valera, Lopes, Eder, Beto.
Good evening and welcome to the opening Group F 2014 World Cup qualifier between Luxembourg and Portugal. While a big win is predicted for Paulo Bento's men, the Portuguese will still have to be wary of Luc Holtz's side, but a few goals may even help Cristiano Ronaldo to overcome his recent sadness, and start his nation's road to Brazil with a bang.
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