Portugal cruised past Luxembourg 5-0 in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier to edge close towards booking their ticket to Qatar. Record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick, while Bruno Fernandes and Joao Palhinha scored once apiece as the Selecao rounded off a fine month.
Ronaldo got Portugal underway with a penalty in the eighth minute after Bernardo Silva was fouled inside the area. Just five minutes later, he doubled Portugal’s lead from the spot before Fernandes added gloss to the scoreline with a third after only 17 minutes.
Profligate finishing meant the hosts couldn’t score more before half-time. Silva, Ruben Dias, Andre Silva and Ronaldo all came close, but it was only in the 69th minute that Portugal found the net again, this time through Palhinha.
The 26-year-old headed home a corner from Fernandes, but Portugal were not done for the night. Ronaldo scored a header from close range to round off his treble and bring up Portugal’s fifth of the night.
Despite the win, Portugal remain a point behind Group A leaders Serbia, but have a game in hand. The two teams are set to lock horns on the final day of qualifiers. On that note, here are the five major talking points from the match:
#5 First-half penalty madness handed Portugal momentum
Luxembourg, ranked 94th in the world, were like a lamb at a slaughterhouse in Portugal’s backyard. But it didn’t take long for things to go south for the minnows.
As early as the seventh minute, the home side won a penalty when Bernardo Silva was fouled inside the area by Sébastien Thill. Ronaldo calmly slotted from the spot to give the Selecao the lead.
Just five minutes later, the 2016 Euro champions were the beneficiaries of another spot-kick. This time, Cristiano Ronaldo himself was caught out by Luxembourg goalkeeper Anthony Moris. Once again, he made no mistake from 12 yards.
As the talisman wheeled away in celebration, the referee blew his whistle and asked for the penalty to be retaken, as Pepe was adjudged to have encroached the penalty box a tad too early.
For the third time, Ronaldo stepped up, and successfully dispatched his penalty. It was really close, as Moris had guessed the right way this time, but he couldn’t keep out the Portugal captain’s effort.
More importantly, though, the two goals in the first half essentially ended the match as a contest. The momentum was firmly in Portugal’s favour, and they never looked back after that.
#4 Portugal need to be more clinical with their chances
Five goals in a match with their greatest-ever player bagging a hat-trick; what more could you ask for,? Well, the fact is, with a little more cutting edge, Portugal could’ve even hit double figures on the night.
In the first half, three of their efforts were directed straight at the Luxembourg goalkeeper Moris. Ruben Dias and Andre Silva both headed at him, while Bernardo Silva’s bicycle attempt too was directed in his path.
Ronaldo also broke into a spectacular overhead kick in the second half, but it was brilliantly parried away by Moris. But even then, moments ago, the United ace had dragged a presentable chance wide.
It was only Luxembourg, so the Selecao managed to get away with it. But against more resolute teams like Serbia, whom they’re going to face next month, Portugal cannot squander such opportunities. They must be more clinical with their chances.