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October 15, 2013
• Estádio EFAPEL, Coimbra
Referee: B. Yildirim
• Attendance: 18955
Silvestre Varela 30'
Hélder Postiga 79'
On another night it could have been double figures with Luxembourg down to ten men, but Bento will be happy enough with his side's display. They must now wait until Monday to find out who they will face in the play-offs next month. I've been Tom Maston, and thanks for joining me.
The final whistle is blown, and though Portugal can celebrate their win, they cannot yet celebrate qualification to the World Cup after Russia's 1-1 draw in Azerbaijan secured their progress as Group F winners. Portugal will take their place in the play-offs.
90' + 2'
Yet again Joubert is called into action as he parries away Nani's powerful effort after cutting in from the right. On another night the Manchester United man would have had a hat-trick.
90' + 1'
Mutsch tries his luck from all of 40 yards but his speculative effort is well off-target. Could be the last sight of goal for the visitors.
Just two minutes of stoppage time at the end of the match. We are into them now.
Nani employs the captain's privilege of taking the free-kick, but his effort is too high and doesn't trouble Joubert.
Postiga finishes another fine Moutinho pass with a delightful chip, but the offiside flag is up yet again. Play is brought back for a free-kick in a dangerous position though...
Antunes has taken a leaf out of Coentrao's book since replacing the Real Madrid man as he looks to get forward at every opportunity. This time he breaks into the box but his touch from Varela's pass is too heavy and Luxembourg clear.
WHAT A MISS!! Hugo Almeida has just missed an incredible opportunity. Andre Almeida finds him at the back post, but with the goal gaping he has contrived to hit the crossbar. The second simple chance he has squandered in the second half.
This game is petering out now with both sides going through the motions somewhat. A two-legged play-off to reach Brazil is all but confirmed for the hosts now.
D. da Mota
The visitors make their final change as da Mota makes way for Martino.
Yellow Card D. da Mota
A third booking for Luxembourg to go with Joachim's red as da Mato is cautoned for tripping Moutinho.
Assist Joao Moutinho
Goal Hélder Postiga
GOAL!!! It's no more than the hosts deserve for all the opportunities they have created. Postiga is the man to find the net as Josue's cross is flicked on and the striker has all the time in the world to finish from close range.
Almost an instant impact for Antunes as he hits a good low strike towards the bottom corner from distance. Joubert again denies the hosts though as he tips round the post.
They've wasted plenty of chances in this game, and Hugo Almeida has arguably missed the best of the lot. Nani picks out the striker with the goal at his mercy, but his header is poor and drifts wide. The hosts also make a substitution with Coentrao replaced by Antunes on the left.
Russia remain 1-0 up against ten-man Azerbaijan in the other game that matters in this group, so it seems that Portugal will have to make do with a play-off place.
SO CLOSE!! Best chance of the half for the home side as poor marking from a corner allows Nani to win a header at the near post. A combination of Joubert and the crossbar denies him though.
Yellow Card Gerson
Another booking for the visitors as Gerson is penalised for pulling back Postiga.
Patricio is again called into action as Laterza hits a speculative effort from by the right touchline. The goalkeeper has to tip it round the post, though the officials award a goal kick. I'm not sure it was on target at any rate.
Coentrao again pushes forward and whips in a dangerous cross from the left. It is too high for Hugo Almeida though and Luxembourg can breathe again.
A chance for the visitors as da Mota gets forward down the left. Sereno takes the ball off Mutsch's toes in the box before Gerson fires straight at Patricio.
Yellow Card Fabio Coentrao
Coentrao taints a good performance somewhat by picking up a needless yellow card for blocking off Mutsch.
Varela has been switched to the right since Hugo Almeida's introduction, but that doesn't mean he is being any less effective. His latest cross is blocked but his pace is causing real problems.
A second change for Luxembourg as Payal is replaced by Peters.
Nani looks for the spectacular but his effort from distance is well off-target. The hosts have been fairly wasteful since the break.
Ricardo Costa is also being replaced after seemingly picking up an injury, with Sereno his replacement in defence.
A foul on Moutinho allows Almeida to make his entrance, with Veloso the man replaced.
Hugo Almeida is being readied on the bench, and it may not be long until we see the big striker.
Nani again runs at the heart of the Luxembourg defence, but captain Mutsch gets across to make a crucial challenge on the edge of the area.
Varela has been electric since the break, and he again breaks forward down the left before looking for Coentrao in the middle. The left-back cannot make full contact with his header, though, before Postiga fires over from an offside position.
Varela and Nani have been excellent on the two flanks, and they almost combine as the former breaks down the left before delivering a superb ball across the six-yard box. It is just too heavy for Nani though and he can't get a proper touch on the ball at the back post.
Yellow Card Josue
Portugal have began the second period as they ended the first, and they go close to scoring a third. Postiga is well tackled by Janisch as he breaks through before Laterza makes a crucial clearance to deny Nani.
Luxembourg kick-off and we are back underway in Coimbra.
The players are making their way back onto the field, and the visitors have made a change, with Luisi replacing Bensi.
Luxembourg have huffed and puffed for periods, but the sending off of Joachim has set them back considerably. Being down to ten men will test their fitness levels, and we could see a thrashing develop. I'll be back in five minutes for the second half.
Goals from Varela and Nani have given Bento's side a deserved lead, and on another night it could well have been more. Joubert has been in inspired form in the Luxembourg goal, while Coentrao has hit the crossbar, and they will be confident of adding more to their tally in the second period.
The first half comes to an end with Bensi firing a free-kick straight at Patricio, and though the goalkeeper spills it there is no danger of the ball finding it's way in. That's the closest the away side have come to troubling the home side.
Into the sole minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half. Portugal looking good for their 2-0 lead.
Coentrao has looked as likely as anyone to find the net so far, and he has the ball in the net as he fires powerfully past Joubert. The linesman has his flag up for offside though, and the strike is ruled out.
Another fine piece of goalkeeping denies Portugal a third. Josue curls a free-kick round the wall but Joubert gets down well to push it away one-handed.
Yellow Card Chris Philipps
Saying that, Nani is unlucky as he breaks through and is eyeing up another goal before Philipps cynically trips the winger and concedes a free-kick. The defender is rightfully booked.
Some nice play from Mutcsh leads to him finding da Mota on the left, but Almeida does well to win the ball back. Portugal look to have taken their foot off the gas here.
A rare foray forward from Luxembourg comes to an end when da Mota's cross is easily cleared. With Joachim off their little attacking potency has pretty much evaporated.
Assist Joao Moutinho
GOAL!!! And what a goal from Nani. The Manchester United man breaks into the box, before playing in Moutinho, who in turn backheels the ball back into the Nani's path, and the stand-in skipper finishes emphatically into the roof of the net. The floodgates could be opened now.
The delivery is a poor one from Coentrao and Luxembourg can clear.
Coentrao shows good skill to win a free-kick on the left. Another opportunity for the hosts...
That goal, coupled with the red card, should have settled the home side down, and in truth the remaining 58 minutes should be fairly routine for Bento's side. Moutinho especially is getting much more time on the ball.
Assist Joao Moutinho
Goal Silvestre Varela
GOAL!!! It has been coming, and finally Portugal have the lead. Varela is the man to find the net, but it is created by the vision of Moutinho. The midfielder threads a through ball through the defence, and Porto's Varela rounds Joubert before slotting into the empty net. The hosts lead 1-0.
Red Card Aurelien Joachim
RED CARD!!! Luxembourg have struggled to impose themselves so far, and now their task has been made even more difficult as Joachim is given his marching orders for a foul on Almeida. Replays show the forward went in with his studs showing, and the referee probably got that one right.
Portugal are being frustrated at present, and their mood will not be lifted by news that Russia have taken the lead in Azerbaijan. The play-offs beckon for the hosts.
Portugal again come forward with a quickfire passing move, but Varela's final cross is a poor one and Joubert can easily collect. At the other end a Joachim cross causes problems that Patricio fails to deal with, leaving Coentrao to clear.
GREAT SAVE! Joubert is having a storming evening so far, and he again keeps the hosts from breaking the deadlock with a super stop. Moutinho whips in a free-kick from the right which Nani meets with his head at the near post, but the goalkeeper shows brilliant reactions to tip it over the bar.
Joachim and Bensi have played some nice stuff when the ball is played forward to them, but they can't really do anything to penetrate Costa and Neto. This time Bensi is caught offside as they look to trade passes.
It has been one-way traffic in the opening 20 minutes, with Portugal creating plenty without finding a way past Joubert as yet. The visitors have defended manfully thus far without really getting forward and threatening Patricio in the hosts' goal.
Nani has been relatively quiet in the opening stages, but he is always a danger on the flanks. He gets to the byline on the right and drills a ball across the six-yard box that just evades Postiga in the middle. You feel it's a matter of when not if for the hosts at the moment.
Luxembourg defender Laterza is down inside his own half and will require some treatment. At last some respite for the visitors.
OFF THE BAR! Portugal are getting closer to breaking the deadlock, and they almost had the lead through an unlikely source. Coentrao got forward from left-back before ghosting into the box and heading against the bar from Veloso's inviting cross.
Portugal have the ball in the net as Postiga curls one past Joubert, but he was coming back from an offside postion after Nani's incisive run into the box.
Half-chance for the visitors as da Mota gets forward, but his effort is wayward and goes high and wide of Patricio's goal.
Joubert is now being kept busy, with Moutinho the latest to sting the palms of the Luxembourg goalkeeper from distance. He again parries but this time it falls to one of his own players and the visitors can clear.
DOUBLE SAVE! Portugal test Joubert for the first time as Nani hits a low effort from distance that the goalkeeper can only parry. He recovers quickly though to deny Postiga from the rebound.
First sight of goal for Postiga as he gets free of the Luxembourg defence, but Joubert is off his line quickly before the striker gets to pull the trigger.
Portugal are playing some nice passing football in midfield, but are yet to really threaten the Luxembourg defence. The visitors, on the other hand, are yet to get out of their own half.
Josue wins a free-kick on the edge of the Luxembourg box, but after Nani runs over the ball, Moutinho looks to flight a ball into the area. Those waiting in the box are not on the same wavelength though and the ball floats out for a goal kick.
Early opportunity for the hosts as Almeida gets forward down the right and finds Varela in the area, but the Porto man can only head over.
The referee blows his whistle and Portugal kick-off...
The national anthems have taken place and we are almost ready to get underway. Can Portugal somehow find a way to qualify for Brazil 2014 automatically? It seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened...
The players are making their way onto the field in Coimbra where the stadium is far from full. The supporters who are there, though, seem in good spirits despite their country's qualifying campaign looking set to end with a place in the play-offs. Kick-off is five minutes away.
So what type of test will Luxembourg pose the Portuguese side? Given their record in the group thus far, you would think it would be a fairly simple assignment for the hosts. They sit bottom of Group F with just the solitary win over Northern Ireland last month, though they did lead Portugal in the reverse fixture before going down to a 2-1 defeat.
Ronaldo misses this match after picking up a booking for dissent in the closing stages of his side's 1-1 draw in Israel on Friday, and the Real Madrid star has vowed that he did not look to get a yellow card on purpose. Failing to be cautioned would have opened up the possibility of missing one of the play-off legs through suspension, but the Portugal skipper has denied allegations that he set out to antagonise the referee.
In Ronaldo's absence, Paulo Bento has named Nani as captain in an attacking line-up that suggests that should Russia slip up, the Euro 2012 semi-finallists will be looking to make up the goal difference required to top the group. That is a rather big if though.
Luxembourg: Joubert, Philipps, Mutsch, Payal, Gerson, Jans, Janisch, Bensi, Laterza, Joachim, da Mota.
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Coentrao, Neto, Ricardo Costa, Almeida, Moutinho, Josue, Veloso, Nani, Postiga, Varela.
The teams are in as we approach kick-off in this Group F encounter...
Portugal require a victory tonight to have any chance of overpowering Russia at the top of the group, though that would only come to fruition if Fabio Capello's side were to go down to a surprise defeat in Azerbaijan. The hosts are also without Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe through suspension, and with second-place already secured they may already be thinking about the two-legged play-off that is almost confirmed as being on the horizon.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Portugal's final World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg in Coimbra. The hosts can still reach the finals in Brazil automatically from Group F, though realistically they will have to make do with a play-off berth. I'm Tom Maston and I'll be guiding you through tonight's events.
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