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WC Qualification Europe
June 7, 2013
• Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisboa
Referee: D. Skomina
• Attendance: 54697
Hélder Postiga 9'
Thanks a lot for joining us here at Goal.com for tonight's World Cup qualifier. My name is Tom Webber and it has been an absolute pleasure to guide you through this evening's game. Still not had enough? Stick around for more LIVE commentary as Argentina take on Colombia.
FT Portugal 1-0 Russia: Postiga's early goal brings Fabio Capello's unbeaten record at the helm of the eastern European side to an end and moves the Seleccao to the top of Group F. Russia still have two games in hand, though, so could return to the top of the table, but the importance of these three points to Paulo Bento's team cannot be underestimated.
90' + 4'
RONALDO!!! Just wide from the forward. After capitalising on a mistake by Berezutski, he is unable to guide his volley over Akinfeev and into the goal.
90' + 3'
Smolov wastes possession in a good area for Russia, passing the ball straight into Pereira. Not long left for Russia to rescue this.
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
Vieirinha makes way for Custodio for the closing stages. The Wolfsburg winger put in a decent shift and certainly justified his place in the side.
90' + 1'
We are into the first of an additional three minutes. There is a slight stop in play as the referee investigates a knock taken by Denisov. He looks OK, though, and the game continues.
Neto and Pereira are forced to combine on the right in order to stop Bystrov from racing in behind on the counterattack. Russia are going to throw everything at this game now.
FANTASTIC SAVE!! Akinfeev keeps the game alive with a strong hand to keep out Ronaldo's effort. The Real Madrid man had peeled away from Berezutski but was unable to bury the ball in the bottom corner.
The Seleccao are showing off their neat, short passing wide on the left with Coentrao, Moutinho and Nani combining well to keep the ball. Not long left for them to see this out.
What a chance! Bystrov is released down the right and he does well to hold the ball up before rolling it back to Shirokov as he streams forward from deep. The midfielder hits it first time but his weak effort is comfortably saved by Rui Patricio. That was a glorious opportunity to level the game.
Again Portugal fail to make the most of a set piece. Moutinho's delivery from the left finds the head of Bruno Alves but the centre-back's diabolical header ends up with Vieirinha wide on the right. He tries to lift the ball back into the danger area but a white shirt heads it away.
The home crowd grow expectant as Portugal get on the ball with a chance to counter. They move forward through Nani but his pass up to Ronaldo is cut out once again by Berezutski. He has read the play well this evening.
Great effort from Nani! After seeing his initial effort blocked, the winger is afforded a second bit of the cherry. He arrows a shot from the left for the far corner that lacks the bend to come back inside Akinfeev's post and instead flies narrowly wide.
Bystrov gets the ball in the back of the net but he is correctly adjudged to be in an offside position when he receives the ball, much to the dismay of the visiting fans.
That is well wide from Moutinho! The midfielder lashes an effort on goal from 25 yards but cuts across the ball and has to watch it swerve high and wide of the far post.
Ronaldo tears through on goal and tries to round Akinfeev, but not for the first time he is clearly offside. The Portuguese captain's timing has not been particularly good tonight.
He had only been on the field a matter of seconds. It could have been much worse for Amorim.
Ouch! A nasty collision between Ruben Amorim and Zhirkov there. The Russia is up and looks to be alright, and fortunately the Portuguese is also walking away from the meeting of the two players.
Nani gets the crowd fired up with some silky footwork on the left flank before the ball is worked inside to Ronaldo. The Real Madrid eventually pushes forward and is brought to ground by Bystrov, however, the free kick is flighted straight into the hands of Akinfeev.
Not for the first time we have an acrobatic attempt on goal tonight, and this time it comes courtesy of Bystrov. The winger does well to get into position to have a crack but he sends the ball just outside of the post. Still, positive signs for the visitors.
As things stand Portugal will move to the top of Group F, but Russia will keep their two games in hand. Should that be the case, Capello's men could take pole position back straight away with a win over Northern Ireland in midweek.
Once more Ronaldo manages to get a shot away by cutting in from the left and using his right boot to power a low effort on goal. It bounces inside the six-yard box but Akinfeev watches it all the way and collects it well.
Russia have just over 25 minutes in order to find a goal and keep Capello's unbeaten record intact. They do not seem to possess enough firepower to really test Rui Patricio, though.
We have a short break in play here as Neto has gone down with injury. Hopefully it is nothing to serious and the game can continue quickly.
Rui Patricio always had it covered, but Kerzhakov deserves some credit for his determination to latch onto a pass inside the area. He held off the challenge of Bruno Alves but could only slide a tame shot straight at the keeper.
That was never a penalty! Ronaldo goes down under the slightest of touches from Kombarov and is clearly displeased that nothing is awarded. There was hardly anything in that and the referee is right to ignore his protests.
A threatening move from Portugal as Ronaldo shrugs of his marker in the centre circle and charges towards goal. He lays the ball off to Vieirinha on the right but he fails in his attempts to find Postiga in the middle, instead curling a cross into the awaiting hands of Akinfeev.
Kerzhakov looks to be becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of support he is receiving on the break. With three red shirts around him the striker runs into Meireles and hands possession straight back to the Seleccao. There was little else he could attempt, though.
Good defending from Kombarov there as he gets his body between the ball and Postiga, as the striker attempts to latch onto Moutinho's delicate through-ball. The full-back manages to shepherd it back to his keeper who gathers it up comfortably.
Portugal are doing well to keep hold of the ball here. Russia's pressing is lacking the intensity that it did in the first half, which is allowing the hosts to assert themselves. Perhaps Russia are a bit guilty of resting on their laurels after winning their first four games.
STAT: Ronaldo is just three games away from equalling Portuguese legen Eusebio on 41 international goals for the European nation. The former Benfica forward managed that total in just 62 caps: tonight is Ronaldo's 103rd appearance for his country.
Russia cannot let their positive end to the first half crumble in the opening stages of the second period. They need to get back in possession and take the sting out of the game, otherwise Paulo Bento's men will play much as they did at the start.
RONALDO AGAIN!! Racing through in a central position, he latches onto Postiga's crisp through-ball and holds of Berezutski. The forward looks to drive the ball into the far corner but Akinfeev has his angles covered and gets in the way of the attempt.
JUST WIDE!! Sloppy play in the middle of the park from Russia hands the hosts possession. Vieirinha does well to keep it under control on the edge of the box and pass it left for Ronaldo. The Real Madrid man puts the ball onto his right but his low, powerful effort crashes into the side netting.
Here we go! The referee has initiated the second 45 minutes.
Welcome back! The teams are back out on the pitch so the second half will begin shortly. Can Portugal hold on for three valuable points and end Russia's 100% record in Group F? We are about to find out.
HT Portugal 1-0 Russia: The Seleccao started impressively and took a deserved lead through Helder Postiga after just nine minutes. Capello's men have since edged their way back into it and have certainly had opportunities to pull level. Everything is still to play for in the second half so be sure to join me for that in 10 minutes. In the meantime, you can send your thoughs, comments and predictions to me on Twitter @thwebber.
45' + 1'
We are into the first, and only, minute of additional time.
The whistles during a Russian spell of possession come to an end as Ronaldo gallops down the left, beating two men before standing a cross up at the back post from the byeline. Vieirinha takes it on his chest and attempts to lay it back to the top of the box but it ends up loose.
Kerzhakov disappointed to see another decision not go his way, and he perhaps has a case. The striker chased a lost cause between the two centre-backs and after poking the ball away from Bruno Alves, the defender shoves him to the floor. There was no aim to play the ball and he has certainly got away with it there.
This has been Russia's best spell of the game, without a doubt. A goal so close to half time could have serious implications on the mind-set of the hosts in the second half.
Moutinho saves himself with a last-ditch interception after firing a clearance straight at Zhirkov inside the area. From the resultant corner the ball is headed to Shirokov ont he edge of the six-yard box but his acrobatic attempt completely misses the target.
SURELY A PENALTY!? Another referee could well have pointed to the spot there. Coentrao slides in to block Kerzhakov's cross finding a team-mate in the area and diverts it behind with his trailing arm. There was clear contact, just perhaps not intentional enough for the officials to award it.
Another corner is wasted by the hosts after a deflected shot skims the outside of the post. They really need to improve on those or they risk letting some great chances go begging.
JUST WIDE!! Rui Patricio almost gifts the visitors a goal as he fails to deal with a cross to the back post, merely pushing it out to Kombarov on the edge of the area. The left-back puts the ball into the middle but Glushakov fails to angle it into the far corner of the vacant net. A real let off for Portugal.
A good battle beginning to develop between Vieirinha and Kombarov on Portugal's right. The winger knocks the ball past his opponent but loses out as the pair go shoulder to shoulder. The Seleccao are making full use of their width tonight.
Russia look to slow the play for the first time this evening in order to reduce the hosts' momentum. Shirokov picks the ball up in the middle but his attempts to switch the play over to Bystrov on the right end with a Portugal throw in. Things just are not clicking for Capello's men so far tonight.
While it was not clear if Faizulin's withdrawal was tactical or due to injury, Anyukov clearly looked to be limping as he left the field to be replaced by Kozlov.
WHAT A MISS!! Vieirinha drives to the byeline on the left and pulls the ball back to the penalty spot where Ronaldo waits. It looks to be a certain goal but the former Manchester United man slices the shot and sends it high above the goal. What a waste.
Anyukov fails to deal with a probing pass from Coentrao down the left which allows Postiga to chase it in behind. The right-back shows a decent turn of pace, though, and recovers well to play the ball back to his keeper.
A good move from Portugal as they break down the right with Vieirinha leading the charge. They work the ball across to the opposite flank where Ronaldo tries to muscle his way into the area but only finds a dead end.
STAT: Portugal have not beaten Russia since handing them a 7-1 thrashing back in 2004. Ronaldo was among the scorers, with Pauleta, Deco and Simao all also finding the net.
Comical! Ronaldo cuts onto his right foot from out on the left and lashes a shot on goal. However, Postiga decides to make his run straight across the path of the Real Madrid man's effort and ends up blocking it.
Penalty claim for Portugal! Ronaldo brings down the ball with the outside of his boot but is blocked from continuing his run by Anyukov. The referee is unmoved by a show of strength from the right-back and points for a goal kick.
Russia have every man but Kerzhakov back behind the ball. With his side showing no patience in possession the striker is going to be forced to chase everything down with minimal support. He could be in for a long night.
Ronaldo is playing with a lot of freedom in these early exchanges. This time he pops up in the middle again, but he fails to reach the return pass of a give-and-go with Moutinho which is overhit and runs out for a goal kick.
Ronaldo thinks he should have been awarded a free kick just outside the area, but the referee only points for a corner. Moutinho whips it in but Kombarov rises to get his head to it and Russia chase the ball out.
Postiga clearly very confident from opening the scoring tonight as he tries an acrobatic effort following a cross from the right. His connection is poor, though, and he fails to pull a save out of Akinfeev.
STAT: Before kick off Portugal were the nation with the most shots, excluding blocked efforts on goal, in European World Cup qualifying with 109 attempts at goal.
That is the first we have seen of Vieirinha tonight and hopefully we will see something more positive. The Wolfsburg winger cut in from the right but could only muster a tame shot which was never anywhere near testing the opposing keeper.
The hosts have immediately settled back on the ball following that goal. If they can keep up this level of dominance then they have every chance of bagging an important three points tonight. But there is still plenty of football to be played.
GOOOAL!! Ronaldo wins a free kick wide on the left and leaves it to Veloso to whip in. His delivery is superb and picks out Postiga in the middle of the box who steers the ball in off the post with a tidy volley. Portugal are rewarded for the bright start.
It has been a very positive start for the Seleccao. The have bossed possession in the early stages. For their part, Russia have pressed quite well and when they do manage to get a toe on the ball they are greeted with a chorus of whistles.
Russia finally managed to get a brief spell on the ball and they look to send Kerzhakov on his way down the left. Neto does brilliantly, though, reading the pass and stepping across to halt the striker in his tracks.
Ronaldo's first effort is certainly not one of his best. Again picking the ball up in a deep central position he runs from right to left before letting a shot go. He fails to catch it sweetly and the ball trickles well wide of Akinfeev's goal. The Russian keeper can breathe a sigh of relief.
Ronaldo already dropping very deep and occupying a central position, so it falls to Coentrao to push forward fown the left. Moutinho releases the Real Madrid full-back down the flank but Berezutski gets across to block his attempt at putting the ball into the area.
The crowd roar as Ronaldo picks up the ball in the middle of the Russia half. He turns and charges towards the defence and falls to ground under pressure from a white shirt. The referee, however, gives the free kick the way of the visitors.
We are under way in the Estadio da Luz!
The teams are out on the pitch and the national anthems are ringing around the stadium. Not long until kick off now.
When these two sides met previously in this campaign, Russia ran out 1-0 winners in Moscow. It proved to be the start of a five-game winless streak for Paulo Bento's side which only ended in their last outing with a 2-0 triumph over Azerbaijan. Will that be clinging in their mind when they take the field tonight?
This all makes tonight even more important for the Seleccao. Failure to win would see Russia open up a four-point advantage at the top of Group F, whilst also offering Israel the chance to move three points clear in second position. Victory, however, would put the hosts top of the table.
Indeed, the Italian coach is yet to taste defeat since taking the helm following Russia's Euro 2012 elimination. He's done a good job so far, four wins from four qualifying fixtures without a single goal conceded. I must say I'm impressed.
Igor Denisov returns for Russia tonight after missing the friendly against Brazil in March due to illness. Capello's men have a 100 per cent record from their opening four games of the campaign and a win in Lisbon would surely make them nailed-on favourites to secure pole position in the group.
So, Luis Neto will be making his competitive international debut alongside Zenit St Petersburg team-mate Bruno Alves. Nani only makes the bench with Paulo Bento selecting Vieirinha to start from the right. And of course, Cristiano Ronaldo starts from the left as Portugal look to step up their bid for World Cup qualification.
Russia (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev; Anyukov, Ignashevich, V. Berezutski, Zhirkov; Denisov, Shirokov; Bystrov, Faizulin, Kombarov; Kerzhakov.
Portugal (4-3-3): Rui Patricio; Pereira, Neto, Alves, Coentrao; Moutinho, Veloso, Meireles; Vieirinha, Postiga, Ronaldo.
Lets not waste any time here. The starting line-ups have been chosen and here is how the team's will begin the game...
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Goal.com's LIVE text commentary on tonight's pivotal World Cup qualifying Group F encounter between Portugal and Russia at the Estadio da Luz. Paulo Bento's men are currently one point behind tonight's opponents, but Fabio Capello's team hold two games in hand! Thus the stage is set for an absolute belter here tonight. My name is Tom Webber and I will be guiding you through all the action.
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