Cristiano Ronaldo Penalty Enough As Portugal Edge Finland

The Manchester United star stepped up to save his side as his goal added a little gloss over Portugal's dominant performance.
Portugal 1-0 Finland

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.

The 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.

First Half

Ronaldo 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 Jasskelainen. The Portuguese dynamo tried to bend the ball into the top corner, but sliced the ball wide.

It 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Second Half

Carlos 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. The 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.

Substitute 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.

Teams

Portugal:
Eduardo (Fernandes); Miguel, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Duda; Deco, Pepe(Mierles), Tiago(Maniche); Nani, Hugo Almeida(Orlando Sa), Ronaldo.

Finland: Jääskeläinen(Maenpaa); Pasanen, Tihinen, Hyypia, Kallio; Johannson, Heikinen, Eremenko, Kolkka; Litmanen(Kuqui), Forssell(Sjollund).

Goal:
Ronaldo (Penalty)

Salvatore Landolina, Goal.com