Portugal 2-0 Switzerland: match report
Portugal secured their placed at the 2018 Russia World Cup with a comfortable victory over Switzerland in a must-win match at the Estadio da Luz. An own goal from Johan Djourou put the hosts ahead at half time, and André Silva added another from close range in the second half. Switzerland will swallow the bitter pill of entering the play-offs, despite having won eight of their nine qualifiers.
Group B was a true two-horse race leading up to the match in Lisbon. Switzerland had won every match, and Portugal had won every match apart from the one they lost to Switzerland in Basel. Yet the reigning European champions had a vastly superior goal difference, meaning a victory would secure their ticket to Russia.
The early stages of the match were cagy. Both sides appeared eager to avoid falling in to the play-off precipice. The visitors were energetic and well-organised, but lacked the spark of imagination to break down a wily Portuguese defence. Cristiano Ronaldo drifted in off the left wing for Portugal.
The first chance of the match fell to Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva, a little after the half-hour mark. As Cristiano Ronaldo lay on the floor expectant of a free-kick, the ball broke wide to Silva, who took a touch and stung Yann Sommer’s palms with a stinging effort.
Four minutes before half time, Portugal made their gradual pressure count. Eliseu fizzed a teasing ball across the six-yard box. Sommer threw himself towards it and tangled with Johan Djourou.The centre-half looked on despairingly as the ball ricocheted off his shin and across the line.
The Estadio da Luz heaved a collective sigh of relief. At half time, Portugal were going to the World Cup.
André Silva added the second after 57 minutes. Joao Moutinho threaded a clever ball to Bernardo Silva, who squared the ball for his namesake to turn in, unmarked, at the far post.
Cristiano Ronaldo squandered a clear opportunity to end the match as a contest with ten minutes remaining. But clean through on goal, he failed to take the ball around Yann Sommer.
Switzerland can count themselves extremely unlucky. Not in respect of this match, in which they were turgid, but in terms of the qualification process as a whole. Their 27 points would have been enough to win seven of the nine groups. Vladimir Petković will need to refocus his team ahead of a foray in to the play-offs.
The fact that Portugal had to wait until the final round of matches to secure their place at the World Cup owes more to Switzerland’s consistency than a stumble from Santos’ side. They will travel to Russia with the hope of emulating the achievement that their Iberian neighbours made in 2010: following up a European Championship with a World Cup. With this blend of talent, Portugal should be considered among the favourites next summer.
Portugal 2-0 Switzerland: as it happened
90'+3' Full time. Portugal have qualified for the 2018 World Cup. Switzerland will go in to the play-offs.
90'+3' Portugal steal the ball off a ponderous Fabian Schär and dash up to the other end. Bernado Silva twists and turns in the box, shoots, and wins a corner.
90'+1' Joao Mario trots off, Danilo replaces him.
90' Three minutes of added time.
89' A spell of unassuming Swiss possession comes to nothing as Soares plays the ball off Embolo for a goal kick.
86' We're fast approaching 'now or never time' for Switzerland. Never is looking more likely than now, as creativity continues to evade the away side.
84' The ball bobbles around in Portugal's box, but Pepe beats Embolo to it.
80' Blimey... oh dear, Ronaldo. The No.7 is played clean through, and the linesman's flag that everyong expects is not hoisted. He tries to dribble the ball around Sommer, but the 'keeper outsmarts him, and dives down to win the ball. That should have been game, set, and plane tickets to Russia.
78' Joao Mario wants a penalty as the ball cannons off Djourou's arm in the box. The referee emphatically waves his arms to indicate that he will not be awarding a spot-kick. Ronaldo shoots low from the corner, and Sommer smothers.
76' Soares' ball through the six-yard box just evades Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal are in possession, and probably look more likely than the Swiss to score.
75' The scorer of the second goal, Andre Silva, leaves the pitch. Barcelona's Andre Gomes comes on in his place.
72' Seferovic wins a corner, and Shaqiri wastes it with a ball straight to the 'keeper. It's been a frustrating evening for the Stoke City winger.
69' Zakaria is booked for barging Andre Silva off the ball. If the Portugal No.17 had looked up before the contact, he would have seen Joao Mario in absolute hectares on the left.
68' Antunes replaces Eliseu, who was on a yellow card.
68' Shaqiri fires in a shot from 25 yards out, which Seferovic stretches to meet. The striker gets a toe to the ball, but can't make good enough contact to encourage it in to the net.
66' Double change for Switzerland: Zuber and Embolo come on for Dzemaili and Mehmedi.
66' Jose Fonte cuts out Rodríguez' cross, which was intended for Mehmedi. Switzerland have improved in the last five minutes, but are yet to fashion a clear chance.
63' A brief burst forward from the Swiss comes to an end when Mehmedi cuts inside and mishits his shot... to the extent that it barely trickles over the line for a throw-in.
61' Shaqiri tries to add a spark to Switzerland's play out on the right, but he just runs in to trouble. Portugal have held their opposition at arm's length all evening, and that doesn't look set to change with half an hour remaining.
60' A jubilant Mexican wave rolls around the Estadio da Luz.
57' Moutinho threads a clever through-ball to Bernardo Silva in the box, who squares the ball to the far post. Andre Silva is waiting in acres of space, and has time to take a touch in poke the ball in.
57' GOL GOL GOL! Andre Silva!
55' Cristiano Ronaldo collects an inside pass from Soares, takes a touch, and sends wild left-footed shot over the bar.
51' Lichsteiner gives Andre Silva an 'accidentally-on-purpose' knee to the head while he's on the floor. It's pretty soft, but the Portuguese forward has a few rolls across the pitch in faux-agony. No cards are brandished, and Sommer punches clear the set-piece from the left.
50' William Carvalho eases Lichsteiner off the ball, and the referee whistles for a foul. The Swiss captain gestures furiously for a yellow card, but the ref keeps it pocketed. From the free-kick, Shaqiri shapes to cross but whips a low shot to the near post. Rui Patrício swallows it up.
49' William Carvalho knocks the ball over Zakaria's head and plays it out to Mario with a firm pass. The No.10 checks on to his right foot and sends in a cross, which Djourou clears.
47' Good, strong run from Zakaria. The substitute careers forward from midfield and around the outside of Eliseu, but he can't quite squeeze the ball across the face of goal.
46' Peeep! Switzerland have 45 minutes to win a place in the 2'18 World Cup. The away side have made a change at half time, with Denis Zakaria replacing Remo Freuler.
The teams are back out for the second half.
After this match has reached its conclusion, and either Portugal or Switzerland are safely nestled in the World Cup, we'll be focussing our attention on Ecuador vs Argentina. We're already building up to the big'un in Quito.
45'+1' Half time. Portugal lead, and as things stand, they're going to the 2018 World Cup.
45'+1' Eliseu is booked for a terrier-like nibble on Shaqiri's ankle.
45' One minute of added time.
44' Lichsteiner crosses behind Seferovic, who tries to improvise with a flick over his own shoulder towards goal. It isn't a bad effort, but nor is it on target.
44' Freuler received a yellow card for a harsh handball... he has just committed an actual one, but has got away with it this time. A lucky escape for the Swiss No.8.
41' Eliseu fizzes a gorgeous, gorgeous cross down the 'corridor of uncertainty'. Sommer is forced to dive out for it, but succeeds only in pushing it in to Djourou, and the ball trickles agonisingly over the line.
41' GOOOOOOL! Portugal take the lead with a scrappy, scrappy goal.
38' Portugal have a strong shout for a penalty as Ronaldo tangles with Rodríguez, and the ball appears to fall on the Swiss defender's arm inside the box.
37' Ronaldo swishes his feet, dashes to the byline, and crosses straight in to Sommer's expectant arms.
33' Yann Sommer is forced in to his first reaction save of the night. Cristiano Ronaldo is tackled just outside the 'D' and the crowd roar for a free-kick. The referee, once again, keeps his whistle away from his lips, and the ball finds its way out to Bernardo Silva on the left. He takes a touch, launches a piledriver, and Sommer tips it behind. A couple of corners follow, both of which Switzerland deal with.
32' Shaqiri finds a pocket of space between midfield and defence, receives the ball on the half-turn, and threads a clever ball to Seferovic. Playing in the stadium he calls home as a Benfica player, he is dragged over and appeals for a penalty. The referee remains unmoved.
31' Joao Moutinho crosses from deep, but doesn't generate the required curl to take the ball away from the 'keeper. Sommer claims and rolls the ball out for Switzerland to launch another phase of play.
30' Johan Djourou is back in his position as left centre-half, and appears to be moving freely.
27' Remo Freuler is extremely unlucky to be booked for handball. He took the ball down on his chest from a hoofed Portuguese clearance, and it then brushed his arm on the way down to the turf. A clear case of ball-to-hand.
27' Joao Mario clips Shaqiri's heels 40 yards out. Rodríguez delivers to the far post, where Lichsteiner is waiting to nod the ball back across goal. Jose Fonte intercepts and clears.
24' A cagy affair in the opening stages. The high stakes are having a clear effect on the game. There will probable be a glut of goals in the next five minutes, now that I've said that. Johan Djourou is down after Andre Silva caught his shin with a sliding charge-down. The big defender looks in a bit of a pickle.
23' Ronaldo controls the ball out on the left touchline. Schär tries to foul him but bounces off. Lichsteiner, perhaps a more wily operator than his defensive companion, fells Ronaldo at the first attempt. Eliseu takes the free-kick and recycles possession for the hosts.
20' Andre Silva and Lichsteiner clash just inside the box, with the AC Milan forward darting to the back post to meet a Soares cross. There are mild appeals for a penalty, but it was so far off the ball that nobody quite saw what happened in real time.
16' Bernardo Silva twitches in to the box and tries to find space for a shot on his left foot. A herd of white shirts crowd him out, and Schär clears.
15' The Swiss threat returns to the left flank. Mehmedi plays a one-two with Seferovic before whipping the ball back towards the penalty spot. It goes just behind the arriving Dzemaili.
13' Rodríguez skips forward on the left, feigning to cross on a couple of occasions before playing the ball of Soares for a corner. The pony-tailed full-back aims an out-swinger to the far post, where Joao Mario has all the time in the world to boot the ball clear. The Swiss work the ball out to Lichsteiner on the right, and the Juventus man fizzes a delicious ball across the face of goal.
12' Now Cedric is forced to deliver with his left foot, and he scuffs this one along the ground.
10' Lichsteiner now clogs a cross out of play, to equalise in the 'which right-back has the most erratic delivery' stakes. 1-1 as it stands.
9' Manchester City's Bernardo Silva carries the ball deep in to Swiss territory before laying the ball off to the right, where Soares is overlapping, with a flick of his right foot. Soares tries to cross, but slices it behind.
7' Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be playing off the left wing, with Joao Mario drifting in to more central positions.
4' Shaqiri pushes Eliseu in the back in a glaringly obvious manner, and then shrugs his arms at the referee as if to ask "what did I do?'. Switzerland nod the free-kick half clear, before Joao Mario shoots towards the near post from the left of the box. The Swiss 'keeper gathers with ease.
3' Andre Silva gives away a foul for bundling over his Milan team-mate Ricardo Rodríguez. Yann Sommer boots it up the pitch from the left-bcak area, and Portugal win it straight back.
2' Switzerland settle in to an early spell of possession, provoking a cascade of whistles from the crowd. Johan Djourou then passes it straight out of play to allow Portugal to get their feet on the ball.
1' Kick off! The thigh-rubber of Group B gets going in Lisbon.
Cristiano Ronaldo gives a nod of approval after the national anthem, as if to say: "well done, that was sung with gusto".
Here they come! The fans in the stadium hold up sheets of green and white paper to reveal a vast Portuguese flag.
The players are filtering out of the dressing rooms and in to the tunnel in Lisbon. A little over five minutes remain.
Whichever team ends up finishing second will be assured of a place in the play-offs as one of the best second-placed nations.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos was bullish in the build-up: “The game versus Switzerland is not a question of revenge. It’s a question of winning it or winning it. We'll win it.”
Switzerland have a decent record against Portugal over the years, having won 10, drawn 5, and lost 6 of their meetings. The two nations first played each other on a football pitch at the 1938 World Cup, which Italy hosted and won. The Swiss were 2-1 winners at the San Siro in Milan.
Losing track of who has already qualified for Russia 2018? Here's a handy guide detailing who will join Iceland, England, Spain, and co.
For Switzerland, Xhaka, Dzemaili, Freuler, will form a midfield three, allowing Shaqiri and Mehmedi to float around striker Seferovic.
Fernando Santos has picked the Portugal team that most expected. Along with Mario, the two Silvas will be in charge of providing for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Switzerland XI: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Djourou, Schär, Rodríguez; Xhaka, Dzemaili, Freuler, Shaqiri; Seferovic, Mehmedi.
Portugal XI: Rui Patrício; Soares, Pepe, Fonte Eliseu; Bernardo Silva, Moutinho, William Carvalho, Mario; Ronaldo, André Silva.
Team news ahoy!
Stephan Lichtsteiner is bearing down on the record number of caps for the Swiss national team. The Juventus full-back has chalked up 93 caps for the Alpine country. Heinz Hermann is currently on top spot with 118.
Group B has been defined by these two teams. Switzerland have won all nine of their matches, while Portugal have won eight. The Seleção's defeat came, surprise surprise, to the Swiss. Breel Embolo and Admir Mehmedi fired Switzerland to victory over Fernando Santos' side in Basel back in September 2016.
Switzerland are likely to line up with Deportivo La Coruña's Fabian Schär in the heart of the defence. The 25-year-old has impressed at Riazor this season with his ability to stride elegantly from the back and pick a forward pass. He joined Depor in the summer from Hoffenheim, for a remarkably low €2 million.
Should you be wondering how and where you can watch this evening's crunch match-up in Lisbon, we have as ever prepared a useful guide on just that very topic.
Hello and thank you for joining us for our live minute-by-minute coverage of the crucial World Cup 2018 qualifier between hosts Portugal and Switzerland. We will be building up to kick off throughout the day and bringing you all the latest news surrounding the teams.