Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Portugal 4 Cyprus 0: Moutinho the inspiration in Ronaldo’s absence

SoccerNews in World Cup 3 Jun 2017

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Two brilliant free-kicks from Joao Moutinho helped Portugal to a 4-0 friendly win over Cyprus in Estoril on Saturday.

The Monaco midfielder swept in two near-identical efforts in the first half to send Fernando Santos’ side on their way to victory before substitute Pizzi and Andre Silva netted after the break.

Portugal’s four-match winning run ended in March when they were beaten at home by Sweden but this was a far more encouraging performance, even in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is on Real Madrid duty for Saturday’s Champions League final.

Portugal face Latvia in World Cup qualifying next week looking to take a big step towards Russia in 2018 with a fifth win from six Group B games.

Intervalo no Portugal 2×0 Chipre. 2 golaços de livre direto, de João Moutinho! E muita classe… pic.twitter.com/mhSCttrXJm
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) June 3, 2017

The European champions needed only three minutes to break the deadlock, as Moutinho’s sublime free-kick from 25 yards out crashed down off the crossbar and over the goal line, with Antonis Georgallidis apparently having expected the ball to sail over.

Jose Fonte’s flick was saved at the near post by the Cyprus goalkeeper and Andre Silva was inches away from turning Eliseu’s cross goalwards, as Portugal continued to dominate the first half without adding to the scoreline.

New Manchester City signing Bernardo Silva forced Georgallidis into a fine reflex save after another bold run from left-back Eliseu, before Nani – captain in the absence of Ronaldo – glanced a free header over the crossbar.

But there was a sense of deja vu for Georgallidis three minutes before the interval, as Moutinho whipped another stunning free-kick from a similar distance into the visitors’ net to make Portugal’s lead comfortable.

Portugal got their #ConfedCup preparations off to a winning start, recording a 4-0 home victory in a friendly against Cyprus pic.twitter.com/LNbZuNSaNy
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) June 3, 2017

Santos replaced his entire midfield at half-time but it did little to damage Portugal’s control on proceedings, although chances to make it 3-0 were few and far between before the hour mark.

Andre Silva was denied a clear shot at goal by a last-ditch Kostas Laifis challenge, but the 21-year-old Porto star promptly recovered to help his side get their third on 63 minutes, with Benfica forward Pizzi tapping in from six yards after his strike partner had picked him out with a low cross from the right.

The Cyprus defence was beginning to unravel and Andre Silva took full advantage with 20 minutes to play, arriving unchallenged to head in Andre Gomes’ cross from the left.

The 21-year-old almost set up Gomes to make it 5-0 but the Barcelona man just failed to turn in his fizzed cross from the right, as Portugal breezed through the closing stages of a largely impressive display.

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