Otavio marked his senior international debut with a goal as Portugal beat nine-man Qatar 3-1 in Saturday’s international friendly at the Nagyerdei Stadium in Hungary.
Portugal made 11 changes on the back of their dramatic 2-1 win over Republic of Ireland on Wednesday and initially looked disjointed in the opening quarter of the contest.
But quickfire headers from Andre Silva and Otavio put Portugal in control before half-time, at which point Qatar were a player light following Meshaal Barsham’s dismissal.
Without talismanic skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Santos’ side were given a scare when Abdelkarim Hassan pulled one back, though Boualem Khoukhi was next to be sent off and Bruno Fernandes made certain of the win with a late penalty.
Qatar lost 4-0 to Serbia on Wednesday but made a bright start to their latest friendly and nearly took the lead when Almoez Ali sent an angled shot crashing against the post.
Abdulaziz Hatim then called Anthony Lopes into action, but Santos’ men took the lead through their first attempt as Silva headed in Joao Mario’s cross from six yards.
Otavio’s maiden goal followed just 84 seconds later, the Porto attacker climbing highest to guide Goncalo Guedes’ centre away from Barsham.
Qatar’s hopes of finding a route back into the game were dented when, following a lengthy VAR review, Barsham was issued a red card for catching Guedes outside the box.
However, shortly after Joao Mario skied a glorious chance over the bar from close range, the 2022 World Cup hosts had one back through unmarked Hassan’s header.
Felix Sanchez’s side could not build on that goal, though, and Fernandes converted from 12 yards after fellow substitute Diogo Jota was fouled by Tarek Salman inside the box, a decision that led to Khoukhi being dismissed for his protests.
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) September 4, 2021
What does it mean? Fringe attackers take their chance
Santos changed his entire team between important qualifiers against Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan, with this friendly undoubtedly third on the list of this month’s priorities.
Ronaldo is banned for the next game and was therefore granted permission to return to Manchester United early, giving the likes of Guedes, Silva and Otavio a chance to impress.
Otavio scored a goal Ronaldo would have been proud of and Silva also netted, while Guedes registered an assist and was a real threat with his movement before being replaced late on.
Otavio’s debut goal
Brazilian-born Otavio obtained Portuguese citizenship in March and was one of three uncapped players called up by Santos for September’s triple-header of fixtures.
The 26-year-old’s headed goal came from one of his two shots on target and he also played a joint-high three key passes, which was matched by Fernandes despite the midfielder only being introduced on the hour mark.
Mendes sloppy in possession
Nuno Mendes joined Paris Saint-Germain in a big-money deal this week, but the left-back was far from his best against Qatar.
He misplaced eight of his 61 passes – only Silva misplaced more among Portugal’s outfield starters – and the teenage defender also gave away a couple of free-kicks in dangerous positions.
Portugal face Azerbaijan in a World Cup qualifier in Baku on Tuesday, while Qatar are back in friendly action the same day against Luxembourg.
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