Friday, July 21, 2017

Portugal 2 Belgium 1: Ronaldo seals win after Belgians honour Brussels victims

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Mar 2016

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Portugal triumphed 2-1 against Belgium with Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo on the scoresheet in Leiria.

The match had been scheduled to take place in Brussels, but was moved in the aftermath of last week’s terror attacks in the Belgian capital and the visitors wore training tops with the message “In memory of all victims – Brussels, 22.03.2016” before the action got under way.

Nani gave Portugal the lead after Thibaut Courtois had pulled off a string of fine saves, the Fenerbahce winger converting a fine pass from Andre Gomes.

Courtois was again helpless after 38 minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo made it 2-0, heading in a cross from Joao Mario.

Romelu Lukaku grabbed a goal back with nearly half an hour to play, heading in a sublime cross from his brother Jordan, but Belgium – who top FIFA’s rankings – could not find an equaliser.

Portugal had lost two of their three previous internationals but Fernando Santos’ side were constantly threatening Belgium on the break and they will be a danger at Euro 2016 on this form.

Ronaldo had a penalty saved in Portugal’s 1-0 loss against Bulgaria on Friday but his confidence was unaffected, the Real Madrid star nutmegging Jason Denayer with an early backheel.

That sumptuous skill, after nine minutes, set up Mario for a drive that Courtois blocked, with the Chelsea goalkeeper also saving Adrien Silva’s follow-up.

Courtois was having a busy start to the game, turning Nani’s effort away before superbly tipping Ronaldo’s header on to the crossbar.

But Courtois could not continue his heroics as Portugal took a deserved lead after 19 minutes.

Gomes played a smart ball into the box with the outside of his foot and Nani ran on to bend a fine finish beyond Courtois.

Dries Mertens gave Rui Patricio his first test after 36 minutes with a long-range drive that the goalkeeper easily saved and Ronaldo made it 2-0 moments later, with Mario his supplier.

Ronaldo drifted ahead of his marker to nod in the delightful cross and Gomes blazed over shortly afterwards as the hosts threatened to increase their lead further.

Guillaume Gillet’s error let in Ronaldo five minutes after half-time, but he sliced his shot wide.

World number one side Belgium had won eight of their nine previous internationals but there were few signs of a comeback, as Mertens missed a good headed chance and Patricio made a fine save from Radja Nainggolan’s viciously swerving free-kick.

Belgium did get a goal back after 61 minutes, Everton striker Lukaku rising to head in a cross by his younger brother Jordan, who had just come on as a substitute.

Substitute Ricardo Quaresma whipped a free-kick just over the angle, as Belgium lost momentum amid a glut of changes made by each coach, and Marc Wilmots’ side could not find a leveller.

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