LUSAIL, Qatar — Bruno Fernandes overshadowed Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring both goals for Portugal on Monday as the 2016 European champions secured a place in the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Uruguay.
In a hard-fought game at the Lusail Stadium, Fernandes made the difference for Portugal as a Group H defeat left Uruguay bottom and needed to win against Ghana in the final game to qualify for the next round.
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1. Portugal prove they are a top team in Qatar
Portugal secured a place in the last 16 alongside France and Brazil, but although these two football heavyweights are among the favorites to win the World Cup, no one should underestimate this Portuguese side.
They were able to overcome a stubborn Uruguay who offered little up front, winning without relying on Ronaldo’s goals. And had it not been for a last-minute strike against the post, Manchester United’s Fernandes would have become the first player to score a hat-trick in Qatar.
Fernandes, a midfielder, is just one of those Portuguese players who are stars in their own right but are all too often overshadowed by Ronaldo. Portugal also have Bernardo Silva, Rafael Leao, Joao Felix and top-flight defenders like Ruben Dias and the veteran Pepe.
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Portugal are always a contender for major tournaments and a threat to more popular nations, but their only international success so far has been at Euro 2016.
But as the World Cup moves into the knockout stages, Portugal are a side to be avoided by the top sides because they are capable of beating anyone and could go all the way this time.
2. Ronaldo’s desire for goals becomes sneaky
Ronaldo hasn’t scored more than 800 goals in his career without wanting to put the ball in the net, but he went so far as to secretly claim one he hadn’t scored against Uruguay.
The 37-year-old, who is now without a club after his acrimonious departure from Manchester United last week, became the first player to score in five World Cups as he defeated Ghana 3-2 in Portugal’s opening game Qatar converted a penalty.
But he also tried to deny Fernandes the opening goal in that game against Uruguay, responding to the goal in the 54th minute with a celebration as if he’d headed the midfielder’s cross.
At first glance, there seemed to be just a light touch from Ronaldo’s head, but his reaction left no doubt that he had delivered the decisive touch. But a series of replays showed that Ronaldo had neither touched the ball nor directed it into the net.
When the big screens at the Lusail stadium announced shortly afterwards that Fernandes had been awarded the goal, Ronaldo’s reaction was caught on camera: he looked at the screen and seemed to laugh nervously, trying to hide his disappointment, or simply his disbelief that someone had the audacity to take the gate from him.
It was a similar look from Ronaldo when he was replaced by coach Fernando Santos in the closing stages.
3. Cynical Uruguay turns back the clock with a rough approach
Uruguay is a nation that was, and still is, blessed with world-class soccer talent that has always been disproportionately high for its population of just 3.5 million people.
But when their great attacking players aren’t dominating the game, Uruguay can too often rely on a more physical approach to get a result, especially against teams as talented as Portugal.
This was one of those occasions when coach Diego Alonso’s players showed Uruguay’s cynical side, trying to end the game at every opportunity with late tackles, jersey tugs and a general sense of over-physique. At Fernandes’ penalty, the Portuguese players guarded the spot from the Uruguayan players who tried to take the penalty.
Uruguay have always produced strong, dedicated players and their mix of tenacity and skill is why so many like Luis Suarez, Diego Godin and Edinson Cavani have found success at Europe’s big clubs over the years.
But apart from a late wave of attacks in the chase, Uruguay played this game as if they would be satisfied with a draw and they tried to get the point by crossing the line several times. Both Rodrigo Bentancur and Mathias Olivera received yellow cards and were lucky not to be sent off for further fouls.
It’s a shame to see a team with such talent do so poorly, especially when they have the players to beat every team on their day.
Portugal: Diogo Costa 6; Joao Cancelo (7), Ruben Dias (6), Pepe (7), Nuno Mendes (5); Bernardo Silva 6, Ruben Neves 6, William Carvalho 6; Bruno Fernandes (7), Cristiano Ronaldo (5), Joao Felix (7).
Subtitle: Raphael Guerreiro (6), Rafael Leao (6), Goncalo Ramos (6), Joao Palhinha (6), Matheus Nunes (6).
Uruguay: Sergio Rochet 7; Sebastian Coates 6, Diego Godin 7, Jose Maria Gimenez 6; Fede Valverde (6th), Matias Vecino (6th), Rodrigo Bentancur (5th); Guillermo Varela 6, Mathias Oliveira 5; Darwin Nunez 5, Edinson Cavani 5.
Subtitle: Facundo Pellistri (6), Giorgian de Arrascaeta (6), Maxi Gomez (6), Luis Suarez (6).
Best and worst performers
BEST: Bruno Fernandes, Portugal
The Manchester United midfielder stood out simply by scoring the goal that decided that dismal game.
WORST: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
The Portugal captain was anonymous and only drew attention when he tried to score a goal that wasn’t his.
Highlights and notable moments
The game-defining goal came in the 54th minute. Bruno Fernandes fired in a cross into the box and Cristiano Ronaldo got up for a free header as the ball slammed into the back net.
Ronaldo celebrated like it was his goal and he was initially credited with the goal but on closer inspection it seems he missed the ball and the goal was credited to Fernandes. The goal was Fernandes’ first at a World Cup.
Does Ronaldo get a touch on this goal? pic.twitter.com/SdW0v6NjCZ
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 28, 2022
However, Fernandes wasn’t done yet.
A slightly dubious penalty was awarded to Portugal when Fernandes shot the ball through Jose Maria Gimenez’s legs and Gimenez fell to the ground, stretched out his arm to break his fall and the ball slipped past his hand. The referee, after a video review, ruled it was a handball.
Portugal is awarded a penalty for this handball pic.twitter.com/FyG8XT9Fjg
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 28, 2022
After the game: What the players and coaches said
Bruno Fernandes as credit for the goal change: “We’re happy with the win, no matter who scored. The most important thing is that we achieved our goal, which is to get through to the next round. I have celebrated [the opener against Uruguay] like it was Cristiano’s goal. It seemed to me that he had touched the ball. My goal was to cross the ball for him.”
Portugal coach Fernando Santos on who scored Fernande’s first goal: “I think it was a great game, our team played very well and I don’t care about the rest.”
Santos on the result: “It was a deserved win. The team did what they said. We’re in the next round. Now we have to keep working to improve on what we need to improve on. I told my players at half-time that we have to do it.” Play our game, play, show up with confidence. This is our game and we had to pick it up again. There was some fatigue, others could have participated, but there are 26 of them and they can all play. The most important thing is that we won and we won well.”
Santos on resting players for Friday’s game against South Korea: “The game is over, we’re qualified. I’ll think about these things in peace tomorrow.”
Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
Bruno Fernandes scored his first World Cup goal in four career games in the tournament.
Fernandes was involved in four of the five goals scored by Portugal at this World Cup (two goals, two assists).
Portugal: Group H continues on Friday when Portugal meets South Korea at 10am ET. However, Portugal qualified for the knockout rounds by beating Uruguay.
Uruguay: Likewise, Uruguay will face Ghana at 10:00am ET on Friday to complete the group stage. But with their loss to Portugal, they need to win against Ghana and see if the other Group H game helps their cause at the same time.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/story/4818617/sneaky-ronaldo-tries-to-claim-fernandes-goal-in-portugal-win Sneaky Ronaldo tries to claim Fernandes goal in Portugal win