Portugal’s long search for a goal-scoring centre-forward to aid Cristiano Ronaldo could be over after 20-year-old striker Andre Silva netted a first-half hat-trick in Monday’s 6-0 World Cup qualifying hammering of the Faroe Islands.
Ronaldo has been relied upon as the country’s main scoring threat since Pauleta retired in 2006, but Silva’s encouraging emergence continued as he netted three times in just his fourth senior international appearance in Torshavn.
Free-scoring Portugal also hit Andorra for six on Friday, with Ronaldo scoring four and Silva claiming his first international goal, and the Faroe Islands were no better, keeping the visitors at bay for only 12 minutes.
The first half belonged to Silva, as he scored two more by the 37th minute, before Ronaldo produced a fine strike of his own just after the hour.
The Faroe Islands failed to offer much resistance and Portugal made the scoreline rather more embarrassing in stoppage time, as Joao Moutinho and Joao Cancelo compounded the hosts’ misery, with Fernando Santos’ men moving on to six points in Group B.
It did not take Portugal and Silva long to pick up where they left off against Andorra, as the in-form Porto attacker latched on to the ball after Sonni Nattestad sliced a clearance right into his path and coolly slotted past Gunnar Nielsen.
Silva was in the right place at the right time again in the 22nd minute.
This time it was an Atli Gregersen clearance that went wrong, as he knocked Ricardo Quaresma’s low cross on to Nielsen and Silva was there to nod in.
And the forward completed his hat-trick eight minutes before the break – slotting in a rebound after Nielsen failed to hold on to Cancelo’s 25-yard drive.
Portugal were quick out of the blocks in the second half and Ronaldo was keen to get in on the act, but he drilled straight at Nielsen from a tight angle in the 48th minute.
The Faroe Islands did begin to look a little more solid, though, as Portugal were afforded less time in possession in midfield.
Any hope of a miraculous fightback from the hosts was vanquished 25 minutes from time – Ronaldo playing a one-two with Joao Mario and then sending a brilliant left-footed effort into the top-right corner.
Portugal somehow failed to add to that shortly after, though, as Silva saw his close-range effort turned around the post by Nielsen and then Pepe struck the post from the resulting corner.
Santos’ men continued their search for late goals and Moutinho stylishly added a fifth in stoppage time, finding the top-right corner from 20 yards.
And Cancelo completed the rout shortly after – slamming past Nielsen from 16 yards after racing on to Gelson Martins’ throughball.
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