Portugal 2–0 South Africa
South Africa traveled to Switzerland in order to face
Portugal. Bafana Bafana regained some of their pride when they scored a
last-gasp 2-1 win over Norway in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge on
Saturday, breaking a six-game losing streak against European opposition in time
to play against the Portuguese.
Portugal are in big trouble in their campaign to qualify for
next year’s World Cup, and they currently find themselves struggling in a group
including the Scandinavian pair of Sweden and Denmark. Portugal´s disappointing
0-0 draw in Porto against hard-running Sweden in a World Cup qualifier played
on Saturday night badly dented their confidence and hopes of qualifying for the
World Cup next year.
Portugal got off to a very good start thanks to poor
defending from the Bafana back line, as Bruno Alves easily nodded in a 3rd
minute opener from a corner. The goal was Alves’ second for Portugal from his
19 caps, and the European side was automatically in the driving seat. The South
Africans were looking lost for a few minutes as a result of the goal, but they
had their first shot on goal in the 8th minute as Parker tested
Eduardo from just outside the box. Bafana gave away numerous corner kicks in
the early stages, either as a result of nerves or because of desperate
The Portuguese kept possession well, but Bafana threatened
on the break, with Parker looking like he may have a goal in him yet. The
youngster has been prolific for the national team, with five goals coming in
six games. In the 19th minute South Africa were caught ball-watching
and Portugal nearly extended their lead, after a free kick led to a dangerous
flick from Edinho, but Khune did well to tip the ball to safety. The Portuguese
debutants on show were looking promising, but it was experienced international
Deco that looked most impressive in midfield.
Portugal were in control, and in the 27th minute
midfield workhorse Maniche unleashed a fine volley from just outside the area,
but his strike went agonizingly wide of the post. A few minutes later Pienaar
wasted a good opportunity to set up one of his team mates as he floated his
free kick past the crowd of players in the box and out for a goal kick. Modise
had struggled to get into the game for Bafana, while Pienaar was being tightly
marked and as a result, the creative spark for South Africa was easily snuffed
out by Portugal. In the 32nd minute a great one-two opened up space
for Nani in the box, but Khune saved his deflected finish.
A few minutes later a scramble and confusion in the
Portuguese defence allowed Modise to set Parker up for a shot, but he slipped
as he was taking his opportunity and the ball went wide of the target. The
last few minutes of the half saw the Portugal create a few chances, but none
that truly troubled the Bafana back line. South Africa had shown weakness from
set pieces in the last few games, and the Portuguese went into the break with a 1-0 lead thanks to yet another set piece collapse from the Bafana defence.
The second half kicked off in the Olimpico de Lausanne, with
Bafana needing to find a goal to get back into the game. The pace was slowed
considerably in the beginning of the second half, and perhaps a few substitutes
needed to be brought in to breathe fresh life into the encounter. In the 53rd
minute, after a great deal of time spent fighting for the ball, Portugal saw a
great chance go to waste, as Edinho’s header from a low cross deflected out for
a dubious corner.
From the resulting corner Edinho made up for his previous
miss, charging into the area to slot away the cross and make it 2-0 for
Portugal. The biggest cheer from the crowd was reserved not for a goal however,
but rather for the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo onto the pitch in the 56th
minute. The game had lost a great deal of the spark that had kept things
interesting in the first half, and Portugal were comfortably ahead in the
match, using it as an experiment for some of their untested players.
In the 68th minute substitute Mereiles sent in a
dangerous cross, but Khune did well to acrobatically clear the danger. Pepe
dominated at the back for Portugal, keeping South Africa subdued for much of
the game. In the 76th minute a great moment of control from Khenyeza
opened up a chance in attack, but his finish was horrible as he skyrocketed the
ball into the stands. The Bafana defence did well towards the end of the match
to keep track of and stop Portugal’s superstars from advancing towards goal,
showing an improvement in their maturity and timing at the back.
In the 83rd minute a perfect opportunity went
begging for South Africa, as a scramble in the box landed at the feet of
Khenyeza, but he scuffed his shot and Portugal gratefully cleared. Portugal
will be happy with this result, and it will do their confidence a world of good
as they continue in their quest to qualify for next year’s World Cup in South
Africa, while their opponents will take home some valuable experience and
perhaps a few lessons learned in Switzerland. Portugal dominated and won the
encounter by two goals to nil.
PORTUGAL 2–0 SOUTH AFRICA
GOALS: Alves 3’, Edinho 55’
PORTUGAL Starting XI: Eduardo, Brandao, Alves, Nelson, Nani, Pepe, Carvalho, Maniche, Deco, Edinho, Danny.
SOUTH AFRICA Starting XI: Khune, Gaxa, Thwala, Morris, Mokoena, Sibaya,
Davids, Pienaar, Modise, Tshabalala, Parker.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com