Portugal 2 - 0 Switzerland: as it happened, goals, match report
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.