Portugal have made amends for the lack of composure displayed against Mexico in the opening match of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Having opened the scoring after only seven minutes through Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal controlled the proceedings and steered the match safely from the driving seat for vital three points that send them top of group A.
Here is out in-depth match report from Moscow:
Form Guide & Team News
The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup hosts have been alternating between draws and wins over the past four matches and headed into the Portugal clash needing a string of consistency in order to secure their semi-final berth.
Russia head coach Cherchesov decided to make four changes to his line-up compared to the opening match and switching positions for Vasin and Zhirkov, who ended up being given more defensive roles against European champions.
Portugal were disappointingly held by Mexico after coming to Russia on the back of consecutive wins and needed to get back to winning ways as soon as possible in order to keep their semi-final chances alive.
Fernando Santos introduced all three Silvas to the starting line-up against the tournament’s hosts, whereas Jose Fonte was benched after his poor display in the opening match making way for Alves. Nani, Quaresma and Moutinho were other three changes compared to the previous match.
The first 45 minutes at the Spartak Stadium offered very little in terms of entertainment.
The first part of the match went quite as expected as Russia’s defensive line-up produced not much of a creative spark to be able to break into the final third of the pitch and put Rui Patricio in danger. Portugal, on the other side, put in a disciplined display as Fernando Santos’ men went on to control most of the proceedings. European champions pushed their back line far up the field and placed great pressure on Russia, who were forced to sit deep inside their own half, struggling to move forward. With Smolov isolated upfront, Russia offered no real goal chances, unlike Portugal who went through a series of trial and errors following their seventh-minute opener.
It was Andre Gomes who initiated the goal-scoring attack in the opening stages of the match. Barcelona midfielder produced a pinpoint cross deep inside the box toward Cristiano Ronaldo, who had no problems slotting the ball in the back of Igor Akinfeev’s net after shaking off Fedor Kudryashov. Champions League winner with Real Madrid had a fine chance to make it 2-0 towards the end of the term as he found some space for himself inside the box only to see his effort easily thwarted by Igor Akinfeev.
The seventh-minute goal from Portugal captain made all the difference for the European champions who were happy to calmly carry the lead into the second half of the game.
Russia decided to head into the second half with a slight change of formation as head coach Stanislav Cherchesov decided to take off Roman Shishkin and introduce Aleksandr Erokhin, who was given a more prominent role pushing upfront right behind isolated Smolov.
The Portugal continued their recognisable style and almost went up 2-0 when Andre Silva found a space for a close-range header, but Akinfeev did well to save it. The experienced Russian goalkeeper was called into action far too many times in the game and was forced to intervene once again after 57 minutes with Andre Silva once again trying to test him.
The hosts managed to pul themselves together after a full hour of play as Semedov used a Portugal mistake to win the ball on the right and produce a cross to Smolov, who missed a header by an inch. It was the first promising sign from Russia who were desperately trying to score an equaliser.
Russia opened up a bit and the entire match flared up. We almost saw an incident happen around the 71st minute when Georgy Dzhikya took Pepe out with a strong tackle. The temperamental Real Madrid defender tried to follow up with a blow of his own, but the Russian international just pushes him to the ground and makes sure to kick him on the way down, which was enough for a booking.
Chance-wise the closing stages of the match produced not many chances. Portugal were quite happy to keep their lead and preserve their strength for the final group stage game, whereas the hosts’ inability was best illustrated by the fact Russia failed to fire a single shot on goal during entire 90 minutes.
- Igor Akinfeev reached his 100th international cap for Russia
- Ronaldo has been directly involved in 800 goals for club and country (G 603, A197)
- Russia failed to produce a single shot on goal against Portugal
- Portugal dominated the match with 58% possession to Russia’s 42%
- Portugal made nine attempts on goal, scoring only once
RUSSIA: Akinfeev 7 – Shishkin 6 (Erokhin 6.5), Dzhikiya 6.5, Vasin 6.5, Kudryashov 6 (Bukharov 6.5), Kombarov 6 (Poloz 6.5) – Samedov 6.5, Glushakov 6, Golovin 6.5 – Zhirkov 6.5, Smolov 5.5.
Unused subs: Gabulov, Gazinskiy, Kambolov, Kanunnikov, Kupetov, Guilherme, Miranchuk, Smolnikov, Tarasov.
PORTUGAL: Patricio 6.5 – Cedric 7, Pepe 7, Alves 7, Guerreiro 6 (Eliseu 6.5) – Bernardo Silva 7, Carvalho 7.5, Adrien Silva 6 (Pereira 6), Gomes 7 – Andre Silva 6.5 (Martins 6), Ronaldo 7.5.
Unused subs: Nani, Beto, Pizzi, Fonte, Moutinho, Neto, Quaresma, Jose Sa, Semedo.
REFEREE: Gianluca Rocchi
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