Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Portugal 3 Saudi Arabia 0: Guedes stars in Ronaldo´s absence

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Nov 2017

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Goncalo Guedes was the star turn with a goal and an assist as Portugal beat Saudi Arabia 3-0 without their big names in a friendly at the Estadio do Fontelo on Friday.

In a game arranged as a fundraiser for victims of the Portugal wildfires, the hosts were without star forwards Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma and Nani in Viseu.

Manuel Fernandes ensured Portugal’s first-half dominance was reflected on the scoresheet by finishing off a fine move involving Guedes, who had earlier missed two chances.

Guedes got the goal he deserved for a lively performance early in the second half, Ricardo Pereira setting the 20-year-old up to score his first international goal.

And Joao Mario capped off a handsome win by scoring the best goal of the night, also his first for the national team, with a drive from outside the area in the 90th minute.

The Euro 2016 champions were rarely tested against another side heading to Russia next year, with Fernando Santos and counterpart Edgardo Bauza eagerly awaiting the December 1 draw.

Portugal have now won eight of their last nine matches, having pipped Switzerland to top spot in qualifying, while they have kept four clean sheets in a row.

Joao Mario struck the crossbar with a deflected effort after eight minutes as Portugal made a bright start at the home of second-tier side Academico Viseu.

Guedes headed a great chance wide after a Bernardo Silva corner from the right found its way through a crowded box to the back post, the forward then compounding a poor miss by falling over his own feet when through on goal.

But Saudi Arabia could not hold out much longer, the opening goal arriving after 31 minutes.

Guedes made amends with a fine run and cross that Manuel Fernandes tucked past Mohammed Al Owais with a sweet first-time finish into the bottom-left corner.

Valencia loan star Guedes almost capped a busy first period with a goal but drilled a 20-yard strike into the side netting on the stroke of half-time.

Guedes went close again shortly after the restart but slotted a shot just wide after swapping passes with Joao Mario but a deserved goal for the forward soon arrived.

Half-time substitute Pereira perfectly timed his run into the box to meet a Bernardo Silva pass and he pulled the ball back for Guedes to sweep a finish across Al Owais to guarantee Portugal would win the match.

Saudi Arabia tried to keep the scoreline respectable, Al Owais beating away a dipping Bruno Fernandes effort on the hour before Andre Silva fluffed his lines when picked out in the box by the impressive Guedes.

The Saudi goalkeeper saved further efforts from debutant Bruma and Joao Mario but was left helpless as Portugal wrapped up the scoring in the last minute of normal time.

Gelson Martins fed Joao Mario 25 yards from goal and the Inter midfielder let fly with a fine strike into Al Owais’ bottom-right corner.

Portugal will next be in action in a friendly against United States on Tuesday, while Saudi Arabia face Bulgaria on Monday.

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