Bruno Fernandes scored a brace as Portugal beat Uruguay 2-0 to secure a place in the last 16 of the World Cup with a group game to spare.
Portugal dominated possession in a goalless first half on Monday, although the best chance of the half was fashioned by Uruguay’s Rodrigo Bentancur, who ran past three Portugal players only to fire his shot directly at Diogo Costa in goal.
The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute when a cross from Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes flew into the net.
Cristiano Ronaldo had initially celebrated the goal as his after the ball seemed to graze his head, but 10 minutes later FIFA ruled it had been Fernandes’s goal after all.
Uruguay rang the changes with veteran striker Luis Suarez and Maximiliano Gomez brought on to replace Darwin Nunez and Edinson Cavani in the 72nd minute.
But despite Suarez winning a free kick with some acrobatics and Gomez rattling the post shortly after entering the pitch, Uruguay could not convert their opportunities into goals.
Portugal were handed a penalty in injury time after a VAR review, with Jose Maria Gimenez judged to have handled the ball as he fell, as Fernandes knocked it past him in the penalty area.
Fernandes scored the penalty to put Portugal into the round of 16. A late strike against the post denied him a hat-trick.
Uruguay languish at the bottom of Group H but could still qualify if they beat Ghana on Friday and Portugal win or draw against South Korea.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said his team had deserved their victory over Uruguay.
“The team fulfilled very well what I asked them to. They had one or two not so good moments,” he said after the match. “We’re through, but we have to keep working and improve.”
Fernandes said he had thought the first goal was scored by Ronaldo.
“It looked like he had touched the ball,” he said. “All the more, we’re happy with the win, no matter who scores.”
Uruguay coach Diego Alonso said his team had to “get over” the defeat and prepare for the next game.
“We need to win. We can’t lose faith and optimism,” he said.
Source: Al Jazeera
BDST: 1009 HRS, NOV 29, 2022