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June 11, 2014
• MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Referee: B. Toledo
• Attendance: 40000
Republic of Ireland
J. McClean 52'
Hugo Almeida 2', 37'
R. Keogh 20' (own goal)
Fábio Coentrão 83'
That's my cue, it's been a pleasure. See you at the World Cup!
The night started with Ireland conceding withing 2 minutes, and in truth, it never got better for them. Portugal were dominant for the vast majority of the game, and will now head to Brazil in some confidence, with Ronaldo's return sparking their offensive improvement. Ireland promised earlier on, but as time progressed, they simply fell apart.
90' + 3'
There is the full time whistle!
90' + 1'
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN! Ireland nearly have a consolation of some quality, as a raking ball from the right hand side is smashed towards goal by the left foot of Quinn. It's not on target however, but it ripples the back of the net via the advertising boards that had many people, me including, thinking it was a goal!
It's too easy, way too easy for Portugal. They don't even break out of a jog, but they still leave the Irish defence struggling to catch up. Down the right hand side, the ball is played into Nani, who cleverly backheels it into the far corner. However, the assistant's flag is up on the far side for a narrow offside call!
I wouldn't bet against Portugal stealing another goal here, such has been their absolute dominance in the past quarter of an hour or so. Make no mistake, the Irish defence has collapsed here! Space is appearing everywhere and it's almost like a training exercise.
Coentrao is now a darkhorse for man of the match, after scoring once and basically forcing another here. He's been non stop motoring between both halves of the field. The decision by O'Neill to play with four forwards has backfired spectacularly. Portugal have scored two goals since that alteration.
Goal Fabio Coentrao
It's the highly impressive Nani who makes the goal, as a perfectly weighted pass from the right wing matches the overlapping run of Coentrao, who deftly touches the ball past Forde into the far corner! A well worked goal but I'm beating a dead horse - where was the marking at the back?
It's all Portugal here as we enter the final stage of the game. Nani has led the substitutes who have made a positive impression since coming on the field, and their fresh legs have been too much for the Ireland defence. Is a fifth goal in the offing?
Yellow Card Alex Pearce
Booking in the works for Pearce after a tough challenge on Postiga. He's certainly not a popular man in parts of Europe, as it was his challenge on Riccardo Montolivo that led to the AC Milan midfielder's injury that ruled him out of the Italy squad for the World Cup.
It's a first international goal for Vieirinha here, and once again, it's far, far too much space in the box for Portugal to exploit. Credit to the Seleccao's flank play too though, as Nani pings in a glorious ball that Vieirinha attacks, and pokes home at the second attempt after Forde's initial save!
Carvalho shows good strength and control to shake off two challenges from Ireland deep in his own half, relieving the pressure on his defence. He's had a quietly effective game shielding the back four, giving a good display of the talent that has attracted the attention of teams like Manchester United.
Well, that stadium announcer is really earning his corn here as yet more subs make their way on the pitch, this time from the green corner. Too bad no one in the stadium can understand a word he is saying though! And after the dust has settled, it seems that Ireland now have FOUR strikers on the pitch!
Another sub for Portugal, and the very productive Varela makes way for Vieirinha. Time is starting to ebb away here, and Ireland really haven't managed to build on that early second half goal that looked for a moment like it would put the result under scrutiny.
Ruben Amorin has pulled up in a bit of bother here, and he's the latest player to need attending to by the medical staff. He makes his way to the sidelines as the referee is keen to get play moving quickly again, perhaps given the exaggerated delay for all the subs!
McGeady gets Ireland rolling forward on a counter attack down the left hand side. He's released by a great Keane pass, and this time, he gets an accurate ball in towards the far post, which is just taken off the head of Pilkington. How Ireland would have loved to have Long on the end of that one!
Portugal on the ball as we get things rolling again, with the recently arrived Nani in particular looking eager to get on the ball and pick up where Ronaldo left off. They've won a succession of corners, the Portuguese, but as of yet, there's no real edge to that avenue.
Well then, the subs are just continuing to roll on the sidelines. I'll leave the rest of the listings to our trusty stats team, but this break for changes has eaten up the best part of four minutes here. We're finally looking ready to resume, with the 22 men on the pitch vastly different.
Bento joins in the action with a whole host of substitutions on hand for Portugal. The loudest ovation is reserved for Ronaldo, who escaped this match unscathed and with another invigorating, productive game under his belt, despite not reaching the half century of international goals. He'd probably prefer to celebrate that milestone under the bright lights of the World Cup!
Finally, the substitutions break from the touchline, and it's a double change from O'Neill. It's Walters who departs first, being replaced by Shane Long. Also coming on the pitch is Robbie Keane, who grabs the armband, as the stricken Ward comes off.
Ward is down on the deck and in need of some treatment from the physios. He may well end up being the first sub of the night as he trudges off gingerly to the sidelines, supported by the team doctor. Surprisingly, Bento has kept his first 11 on the pitch, and we've played over an hour.
RIGHT BACK DOWN THE PITCH go Portugal, with Ronaldo leading the break at some speed. He has Almedia and Varela charging through the middle unmarked, and he weights a ball towards the latter, but his first touch is terrible, making the ball easy pickings for Patricio, when he should have had no chance!
ANOTHER SET PIECE OPENING! Once again, Portugal are caught napping at the back. The free kick from 30 yards is clipped into Hoolahan on the right side of the box, and he has space to head it across goal towards Walters, but the defence just manages to get to that flick first!
FORDE CALLED INTO ACTION AGAIN! Ronaldo takes charge of a free kick some 20 yards out, and he gets it on target with his traditional straight-on trajectory. It swerves at the last second, forcing the Ireland keeper to bump the ball out for a corner!
Yellow Card James McClean
Ireland have the wind in their sails now, as that goal, coupled with a few rough challenges, have woken up the crowd here in the MetLife Stadium. There's still a game to be played here, and one more goal from Ireland and the cat will be right back amongst the pigeons!
It's worth mentioning that that was a calamitous lapse at the back from almost all the Portuguese players defending that free kick. McClean did superbly, yes, but he should have had nowhere near that time and space! Such gaffes will be unforgivable in about a week's time.
Assist Wesley Hoolahan
Goal James McClean
Well, I mentioned the lack of execution from Ireland moments ago, but that goal could not have been worked any better! A free kick from shooting range is cleverly played short to McClean, and he shows great dexterity to cut in from the left flank, evade his man and drill a low finish in!
IRELAND HAVE ONE BACK!
A much slower pace to start this half than the one that preceded it. No surprise too, given that Portugal have a virtually unassailable lead here. Most of the Seleccao players probably have one eye on Brazil now, and who can blame them for not wanting to pick up any needless injuries at this stage?
Two decent chances for the Boys in Green to manufacture something positive in the final third via the flanks, bot both times, their final ball lets them down, in particular a VERY poor cross from McGeady moments ago. They simply have to execute better around the box!
No changes for either side coming out of the break, with Ronaldo among those starting the second half as well. If you ask me, that's a bold call from Bento, but then again, he has a better knowledge of his exact fitness than I. Ireland in possession as we proceed.
We're back in action folks.
A quite wonderful attacking exhibition from Portugal against a simply outclassed Irish side, who have offered little more than glimpses of what they are capable of. With Ronaldo back in the side, Bento's men have been too hot to handle. A double from Almedia and a Keogh own goal have done the damage, and in truth, it could have been a lot more. Stay tuned for the restart in just a bit.
And that's it for the first half as the referee ends it bang on the 45 minute mark!
Half time is fast approaching here, and it's all Portugal at the moment. You have to wonder what changes Bento will make at the break. Ronaldo's inclusion has sparked a marked improvement in Portugal's offensive efforts compared to their last two friendlies, but he may have already done enough and it may not be wise to risk him any further.
Ireland try to put some pressure on the Portuguese penalty area, but they are crowded out of their ambitions son enough. I have to say it's been a really clean and free flowing game so far. There was that rough challenge from Neto and that collision-induced injury for Coentrao, but they've been lone blots on a smooth evening.
Ireland have it all to do now, though they produce another fleeting moment of quality down the left hand side. Hoolahan gets past his man, and with Varela offering no cover, he has time and space to get a good ball in, with unmarked teammates arriving. However, his ball in is too fast for any interested parties to attack.
Goal Hugo Almeida
Three for Portugal and a second for the mercurial mustache. Valera once again is deadly accurate from the right flank, hooking in a cross towards the far post that Ronaldo rises highest to meet. Forde can't hold on from the resulting save, and Almedia is on hand to acrobatically slide in the rebound!
PORTUGAL SCORE A THIRD!
Coentrao is down an in need of treatment. There's just a glimpse of his spikey head contorting in agony, as his teammates and the physios surround their stricken colleague. Replays show that he took the worst of a 50-50 aerial challenge for the ball, but he's soon back on his feet on the sidelines. Portugal down to 10 men for the moment.
The pace of the match has slowed down a tad here. Portugal are keeping possession in less risky areas, mostly passing it amongst their back four and the central midfielders. It's serving to send Ireland on a wild goose chase for the ball, and with a two goal lead, they can afford to play unambitiously for certain spells.
You have to say that Portugal have been clinical here against, on paper, an inferior opponent. Pound for pound the Seleccao may fall short of the real heavyweights at the World Cup, but tonight's display so far is nothing but encouraging for upcoming games against Ghana and USA where they will want to take full points, particularly if the result goes awry against Germany.
Ireland have forced a corner here, as McGeady, for the second time in this game, opts to shoot as soon as he gets a glimpse at goal. Portugal are a second late in closing him down, and the Everton man has a crack, but it takes a deflection off the second defender. However, Patricio rises comfortably to claim the resulting set piece.
An excellent clipped pass over the top by Meireles, and the assistant referee's flag stays DOWN as he's free on the right side of the box with Almedia unmarked in support! However, he's reluctant to over exert himself to catch up to that ball lest he risk pulling something, and as a result, Forde can get there first.
What Ireland are missing is just what Portugal have had in abundance. The Irish offerings in the final third have been rather ponderous when it came time to deliver the final ball. By contrast, Portugal have attacked at a relentless pace, and the lack of time to weigh up their defensive options has seen Ireland encounter all sorts of trouble.
Walters has been called for the narrowest of offsides as McGeady tried to thread a ball into him. Replays show that the officials were correct to call that infraction on the Stoke City man, but it was a positive spell of Irish possession that preceded it. Another whisper of positivity from the Green Army.
Well, some of these pre-tournament friendlies have been lethargic at best, but you certainly can't say that about this game! An absolutely spellbinding pace from the first whistle! Portugal are flowing whenever they attack, but Ireland have shown some glimpses of purpose when on the ball too.
Own Goal Richard Keogh
A scintillating buildup from Portugal carve Ireland's left flank apart. It's the Real Madrid connection doing the damage, as Ronaldo's flick finds Coentrao on the overlap. The left back's cross is not a great one, but a huge deflection sees it loop over Forde and into the back of the net via the woodwork on the far side! I said it was fortunate, but perhaps Portugal made their own luck in that instance.
LUCKY BREAK! PORTUGAL ARE TWO AHEAD!
OFF THE UPRIGHT! Wonderful strike from a free kick from Ronaldo! He takes aim from all of 25 yards, gets the ball up and down past the wall and has Forde beaten, despite a despairing dive. However, the ball bounces tantalizingly before cracking off the base of the post!
Now it's Portugal's turn to dominate possession. Ronaldo is playing almost as a trequartisa at the moment, drifting into the spaces between the midfield and defensive lines to pick up the ball via short passes. It's helping him to get some really invigorating runs forward from deep.
OVER THE BAR! The resulting corner is flashed narrowly above the woodwork by a Portuguese head.Too easy on that play! Though Ireland have kept more of the ball and made Portugal chase the game for large spells, it's been Bento's men with by far the better chances.
ALMOST THERE! Ireland switch off again and this time it's almost critical once more. Ronaldo storms through the middle from the left hand side and drills a low shot with that same foot that forces Forde into a diving save! Varela recovers the rebound, and squares for Meireles to smash, but Forde comes up with an even better dive to thwart that attempt too!
This has been a positive response from Ireland since going behind. I have to admit, on the basis of the opening five minutes or so, I thought that ROI looked ready to lay down and accept whatever punishment Portugal were ready to inflict. But they've been the better side since that!
A TOUGH challenge from Neto sends McClean flying just outside the box, moments after he had released a cross into the area. it looked a bad one, but it's Neto who comes off the worse for wear, and he needs a spell of treatment from the Portuguese physios on the sidelines.
Ronaldo was very active in the opening minute, but since then, he's been rather quiet - as have Portugal as a whole since Almedia's opener. The Real Madrid forward needs only one more goal to reach a half century for Portugal, though his team need to get their bearings back.
Ireland are currently 70th in the Fifa world rankings, and recent results have not helped their slide in position. In truth, their performances have not been bad, and there have been some solid results such as the draw against Italy, but their inability to turn promise into points, so to speak, has led to them slipping in the rankings.
NOT TOO FAR AWAY! Patricio was perhaps breathing a small sigh of relief as a snap shot from McGeady took an awkward bounce and ended up flashing just wide of the far post. The Everton man took that shot on first sight, and it should serve as a measure of encouragement for O'Neill.
Well, that was a dreadful start from the Irish, who completely switched off in almost every phase of that defensive possession. Almedia's been criticized in the past for not being clinical enough, but he took that one well. Not sure I can say the same about his mustache though.
Assist Silvestre Varela
Goal Hugo Almeida
The ball is spread wide to Varela in ACRES of space, and he has all the time to advance down to the right byeline and whip in a great ball into the area. Almedia is afforded almost as much space to ghost away from his marker and plant a header into the back of the net!
IT'S IN! EARLY PORTUGAL LEAD!
I can't overstate how HUGE Portugal's opener against Germany is. The other teams in the group, Ghana and USA, are no slouches, so whoever loses that utterly enticing match may very well find themselves with an uphill battle to secure second place in Group G!
Here we go in New Jersey!
The anthems have been sung now, and we're edging closer to the jump...
Short delay in kickoff here to 0050 GMT, but don't worry, we'll be underway very soon.
Portugal are undefeated in six games coming into tonight's encounter, winning five during that run. However, their last two friendlies were without Ronaldo, and it was noticeable how they struggled on the offensive end in the absence of the Madrid man. Ireland have drawn their last two games, and though a tie against Italy was certainly no cause for concern, they have taken only two wins total from their last 11 matches.
After tonight's game in the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Portugal will board a flight to Brazil, as one of the last teams participating in the tournament to arrive in South America. They will be up agains it right from the off, with their Group G opener against Germany on June 16. Also featuring in that group are Ghana and USA.
Bento follows O'Neill by also making eight changes to his starting lineup from their last match, a narrow 1-0 win over Mexico. In come Hugo Almedia, Silvestre Varela and Rui Patricio, while out go Bruno Alves, Miguel Veloso and Nani.
For Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo, as predicted has indeed made a return to Paulo Bento's XI. However, given the Real Madrid's man struggle for full fitness in the last few months, I would be very surprised to see him play more than an hour here tonight.
Martin O'Neill recalls a host of names to his XI that did not start against Costa Rica last time out, including Aiden McGeady, Wes Hoolahan, Jeff Hendrick, David Meyler and Alex Pearce. In all, a total of eight changes from the Ireland manager.
So, Robbie Keane is on the bench for Ireland, meaning that Jonathan Walters, the Stoke City striker, will lead the line. Shane Long misses out on a start with a back injury, and he is joined on the bench by Shane Duffy.
PORTUGAL: Patricio, Amorim, Costa, Neto, Coentrao, Carvalho, Meireles, Moutinho, Varela, Almeida, Ronaldo.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Forde, Kelly, Keogh, Pearce, Ward; Hendrick, Meyler; McGeady, Hoolahan, McClean; Walters.
Hello and welcome to the last of the World Cup warmups, as Republic of Ireland face off against Portugal. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your host for tonight's action.
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