Thursday, October 19, 2017

Portugal 2-0 Switzerland: Ronaldo’s men qualify for the World Cup

Ashley Randall in Editorial, World Cup 10 Oct 2017

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Portugal ensured their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a comfortable 2-0 win over Switzerland in the winner takes all clash this evening.

An unlucky own goal from Johan Djourou and an early second-half strike from Andre Silva meant the hosts topped Group B ahead of the visitors on goal difference.

Switzerland never got going at the Stadium of Light and failed to materialise any decent chances, while Portugal dominated possession all too easily.

Switzerland must now aim to qualify through the dreaded play-off system if they are to join their rivals at the tournament.

First Half

The match started with Vladimir Petkovic lining up his men in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, however, there was no real quality from either side in the opening exchanges and entertainment was at a premium.

Switzerland seemed happy to sit back and try to hit Portugal on the counter-attack but both teams looked to be nervous at the prospect of taking a foothold on the game.

It was the European champions who had the first slight sniff at goal when Andre Silva shot was deflected off Stephan Lichtsteiner and goalkeeper Yann Sommer did well to save at his near post.

Midway through the first-half Andre Silva was lucky not to be shown at least a yellow card when a high and late challenge on Djourou went unnoticed by referee Cuneyt Cakir.

That seemed to spring a catalogue of terrible decisions by the official and Switzerland felt they should have had a penalty in the 32nd minute when Haris Seferovic was clipped by Eliseu only for the referee to wave play on.

Portugal nearly took the lead just five minutes later when Bernardo Silva broke inside the area and blasted a shot towards goal, only for Sommer to palm the ball away at the near post.

It was then time for Cakir to make another debatable decision when a Cristiano Ronaldo shot inside the box bounced up off the hand of Ricardo Rodriguez with the defender seemingly knowing what he was doing.

Switzerland then conceded an ugly goal in the 40th minute as a cross from Bernardo Silva was parried out by Sommer, only for the ball to bounce off Djourou and roll into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

As the first half wore on the game started to become more open and the away side were starting to break forward with a bit more urgency and commitment, but both teams were struggling to find any consistency in the final third.

Second Half

The second-half started with another shocking decision by Cakir when Lichtsteiner should have seen red after kneeing Andre Silva in the back of the head as both had fell to the ground following a challenge.

It had seemed all match that the referee was too incompetent to make the correct calls or he was afraid to make them on a night which meant so much to both teams.

However, bad officiating wasn’t going to stop Portgual’s second goal which came after a succession of passes inside the Switzerland area was expertly finished at the back post by Andre Silva to make it 2-0.

The away side now needed to score twice to progress, but they never really managed to create anything from open play and only managed to test keeper Rui Patricio once the whole match, which in truth, was probably one of the easiest games he’s had between the sticks.

Ronaldo, who hadn’t seen much of the ball during the game, surprisingly failed to score when he found himself one-on-one with Sommer in the 80th minute, only for the keeper to get the better hand and save at the Real Madrid forward’s feet.

After winning all of their previous nine qualifiers before tonight’s match, it was disappointing that Switzerland failed to produce their best performance when it really mattered.

Petkovic’s men will now be one of the seeded countries for the play-off draw on October 17 where they will face either Sweden, Greece, Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Portugal: Patricio, Pepe, Fonte, Eliseu (Antunes), Cedric, Moutinho, Joao Mario (Danilo), Bernardo Silva, Carvalho, Ronaldo, Silva (Andre Gomes)

Subs not used: Lopes, Beto, Bruno Alves, N. Semedo, Renato Sanches, Eder, Guedes, Gelson, Quaresma

Switzerland: Sommer, Lichtsteiner, Rodriguez, Djourou, Schar, Freuler (Zakaria), Xhaka, Dzemaili (Zuber), Mehmedi (Embolo), Shaqiri, Seferovic

Subs not used: Hitz, Mvogo, Moubandje, Elvedi, Akanji, Lang, Frei, Gavranovic, Derdiyok

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Randall


Ash is a freelance football writer who lives, breathes and dreams the beautiful game. A lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket holder, if he isn't at Molineux then he will be watching any game on television that he can set his eyes on. Producing work for various football websites and publications, Ash has also written for regional newspapers and global magazines.

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