A late Cristiano Ronaldo penalty was enough to see off a lacklustre Finland side in Faro on Wednesday night. The Portuguese ace led the charge with his side missing a host of chances before the penalty sealed the win.
two previous games between both nations ended in 1-1 draws. Portugal
were keen on changing that trend while Finland were hoping to come
away with their pride still intact and hoping to avoid a repeat of
the recent 5-1 defeat to Japan. Ronaldo made
his 62 appearance for his side, and was presented with an award by
the Portuguese federation in recognition for his FIFA World Player of
the Year award before kick off.
showed his tricks and got the crowd roaring early on as he raced down
the line to feed Duda. The winger crossed in a decent ball across the
box but none of the strikers took a gamble as the chance fizzed out.
Minutes later the Portuguese team showed their signs of quality with
some exquisite football. Manchester United star Nani combined well
with Ronaldo who flicked it into the path of Chelsea's Deco. However,
the midfielder's striker was straight into the arms of Jussi
The Portuguese dynamo tried to bend the ball into the top corner, but sliced the ball wide.
was a sign of things to come though as the home side kept up the
pressure on their opponents. Finland were slow and struggled to get
going and hardly created any chances worthy of mention. Ronaldo was
in for a tough night though. Roman Eremenko was lucky to have escaped
punishment after he hacked the winger down from behind. It was a
nasty challenge from the midfielder as Portugal enjoyed the lions
share of the possession.
Finnish side were allowing their opponents too much space and it
wasn't long before the shots started to fly. Jasskelainen was in top
form and he was alert on Tiago's smash from distance as he parried
the ball into safety. Almeida was guilty of missing an excellent
chance when Nani found his head with a pinpoint cross. However, the
Werder Bremen star glanced his header just wide of the far post.
chances kept on coming as Pepe fed Tiago. The Juventus midfielder cut
a great cross back to Ronaldo, who was in acres of space, but his
volley was just inches wide as the goalkeeper breathed a sigh of
relief. Finland's only real chance fell to Mikael Forssell. The
Hannover striker tested Edoardo with a thunderous drive from range,
but the Portugal keeper made a decent save.
The away side did have
the ball in the net minutes later but it was disallowed for offside
and Forseell's celebrations were cut short after he bungled the ball
over the line.
Queiroz's men came back out fighting and they began with the same
intensity and pace that they showed in the first half. Nani kept on
pulling the strings as Ronaldo moved over to the left flank. The Red
Devils star whipped in a fantastic cross for Almeida but it came to
no fruition as another chance went begging.
chances kept on coming for the Portuguese.
However they were wasted
as poor finishing saw the game remain goalless. Queiroz watched on
from the bench in frustration knowing he needed a positive result to
silence his critics. His side were creating plenty, but the final
product was not of the standard you would expect. Ronaldo released
Almeida, who just checked his run to beat the offside trap, but his
shot was easy for the Maenpaa to punch clear.
Orlando Sa, who made his debut for Portugal was guilty of missing the
chance of the game when Ronaldo put him through with a perfect pass.
However, the 20-year-old Braga striker dragged his effort wide of the
mark when he was one-on-one with Maenpaa. It seemed like it would be
one of those days where nothing goes for the dominating team as a
flurry of shots flew into the crowd rather than hit the net.
Danny came on for Nani and the Zenit St Petersburg star won a penalty with his first touch of the game as Pasanen was sucked in to make the challenge and the referee had no choice but to award the spot kick. Ronaldo stepped up and calmly dispatched his kick into the bottom corner.
Eduardo (Fernandes); Miguel, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Duda; Deco,
Pepe(Mierles), Tiago(Maniche); Nani, Hugo Almeida(Orlando Sa),
Jääskeläinen(Maenpaa); Pasanen, Tihinen, Hyypia,
Kallio; Johannson, Heikinen, Eremenko, Kolkka; Litmanen(Kuqui),
Goal: Ronaldo (Penalty)
Salvatore Landolina, Goal.com