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Ronaldo’s Portugal held by Mexico at Confed Cup

June 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Cristiano Ronaldo brushed off speculation about his Real Madrid future, although Portugal conceded a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Mexico at the Confederations Cup on Sunday.

Mexico

Ronaldo teed up Ricardo Quaresma to fire Portugal ahead in the first half in Kazan, but the goal was cancelled out before the break by Mexico striker Javier Hernandez’s bullet header.

Cedric Soares restored Portugal’s lead on 86 minutes, but Hector Moreno’s stoppage-time header salvaged a point for Mexico in their Group A opener.

“We could have killed off the match but it didn’t happen. The draw is a fair result without doubt,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos, whose side wore black armbands in honour of the victims of a deadly forest fire back home.

“I would like to say something on behalf of my players. People are very sad in Portugal and the players are thinking of all those who are suffering from what’s happened.”

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said his team deserved their point but admitted there was work to be done going forward.

“Hector Moreno’s goal handed Mexican football a huge result,” he said.

“We still need to work on our finishing, we’re not efficient enough in the final third of the pitch.

“The next match will be very tough because New Zealand will give it their all.”

Ronaldo, 32, is reportedly furious over a tax probe into the off-shore accounts dealing with his image rights, and has reportedly vowed to leave Spain.

According to Spanish paper Marca on Sunday, Real Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane even broke off his holiday to call Ronaldo to try to persuade his star not to quit the club.

But Portugal’s talisman was at his best in an action-packed first half in his team’s opening match, with hosts Russia and New Zealand still to come in the group.

Ronaldo’s superb volley looked to have helped Portugal take the lead, but the video assistant referee came to Mexico’s rescue after Nani had put the ball in the net.

When Ronaldo’s volley thumped the crossbar, Nani pounced on the rebound, but the video ref spotted that four players were offside.

However, Portugal, and Ronaldo, were not to be denied.

The Euro 2016 winners took the lead on 34 minutes when Ronaldo sprinted into the box and his beautifully-timed pass found Quaresma unmarked in the area.

The Besiktas winger drew Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and tapped home the opening goal.

But Mexico responded with Hernandez testing Portugal keeper Rui Patricio, before putting his side level.

Mexico’s all-time top scorer grabbed his 48th international goal from 93 appearances after some dreadful defending by Portugal.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Raphael Guerreiro failed to deal with a cross into the box and Carlos Vela teed up Hernandez, who met the cross with a diving header.

After an explosive opening period, the second was a much tamer affair as both teams squandered half chances as the tempo dropped.

With time running out, Southampton right-back Cedric pounced on a loose ball and slammed home Portugal’s second goal.

But with the 90 minutes up, Mexican defender Moreno rose highest from the final corner of the game to head in the equaliser.

Portugal beat Poland in shootout to reach semis

July 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Portugal substitute Ricardo Quaresma, keeper Rui Patricio and 18-year-old midfield sensation Renato Sanches were the heroes as Portugal beat Poland 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals on Thursday.

Football Soccer - Poland v Portugal - EURO 2016 - Quarter Final - Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France - 30/6/16 Portugal's Rui Patricio saves from Poland's Jakub Blaszczykowski during the penalty shootout REUTERS/Yves Herman Livepic - RTX2J4XG

Patricio dived full length to block Jakub Blaszczykowski’s penalty, Poland’s fourth, allowing substitute Quaresma, whose goal late in extra-time beat Croatia in the round of 16, to bang in Portugal’s fifth in the shootout.

Two hours earlier Robert Lewandowski put Poland ahead with a second minute strike only for teenager Sanches to equalise with a superb shot 33 minutes into his first international start.

Precious little happened from then on but Portugal, beaten on penalties by Spain in the semi-finals four years ago, will not care as they advance to the last four at the Euros for the fourth time in five tournaments to face Belgium or Wales.

“(The goal) was an amazing moment. I’m happy to be man of the match again, but the individual comes after the team,” said Sanches, who also scored the second shootout penalty.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who four years ago did not get to take his planned spot kick when he was fifth in line as Portugal lost to eventual winners Spain, went first this time.

Joao Moutinho and Nani also scored confidently from the spot before Patricio swung things Portugal’s way with his fine save and Quaresma applied the coup de grace.

Poland had converted all five of their penalties in knocking out Switzerland in the last round, also after a 1-1 draw, but could not repeat the feat.

“The players put a lot of heart into this match and played bravely throughout this tournament and this defeat hurts,” said Poland coach Adam Nawalka.

“We haven’t lost a match at the tournament – we were knocked out on penalties. We’ve moved forward – this tournament has proved that. We played some very good football but this defeat hurts.”

It was a somewhat strange encounter, with an all-action first half followed by 75 minutes of inaction.

Poland went ahead when Portugal defender Cedric’s misjudgement allowed a long ball to bounce over his head to Kamil Grosicki. He drove on down the left and squared for Lewandowski to guide the ball in.

It was the striker’s first goal of the tournament and, at one minute 40 seconds, the second-fastest in European Championship history after Dmitri Kirichenko’s for Russia against Greece after 65 seconds in 2004.

Poland looked the more confident team for the next 20 minutes but failed to press home their advantage as Portugal settled and began to make inroads.

The Portuguese levelled when Sanches, due to join Lewandowski at Bayern Munich after the Euros, played a neat 1-2 with Nani and found time to shift the ball onto his left foot at the edge of the box and smash it past Lukasz Fabianski.

Both sides came out for the second half seemingly under instruction to slow things down and the life bled from the game.

The only clear chance of the half came in the 85th when substitute Moutinho lobbed a clever pass for Ronaldo who, having taken the time to glance at the keeper’s positioning, failed to make any contact on the dropping ball with the goal gaping.

Little changed in the additional 30 minutes, with the near-64,000 crowd drugged into a drowsy-near silence, seemingly knowing what was afoot almost from the restart.

Portugal have failed to win any of their five games here in 90 minutes, having drawn three group matches and beaten Croatia in extra time but midfielder Sanches, on the greatest day of his fledgling career, was in no mood to apologise.

“It takes a lot of hard work to be this lucky,” he said. “People criticise us but we don’t care because in the end we are in the semis.”

Sparkling Quaresma upstages two-goal Ronaldo in Estonia rout

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Mercurial forward Ricardo Quaresma scored twice and set up three more goals in a sparkling individual performance as Portugal demolished Estonia 7-0 in their final friendly before Euro 2016 on Wednesday.

Football Soccer - Portugal v Estonia- International Friendly - Lisbon, Portugal - 08/06/16. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal against Estonia. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

The charismatic but erratic forward, given a chance to stake his place in the team for France when he replaced Nani in the starting line-up, even upstaged Cristiano Ronaldo who scored twice before being taken off at halftime.

Quaresma, whom critics say has failed to make the most of his talent in a career punctuated by tantrums, produced his full repertoire of tricks in one of the best international performances of his topsy-turvy career.

The 32-year-old opened the floodgates with two moments of brilliance just before halftime.

This first was a stunning “trivela”, an outswinging cross hit with the outside of his right foot, to pick out Ronaldo who got in front of his marker and scored with a bullet header at the far post in the 36th minute.

There was even better to come three minutes later when Quaresma put an extraordinary amount of spin on the ball as he dinked it over Estonia goalkeeper Pavel Londak from inside the penalty area.

Ronaldo, Portugal’s all-time leading scorer, exchanged passes with Joao Mario before scoring the third with a scuffed shot, taking his international tally to 58.

Not to be undone, Quaresma narrowly missed the goal with a rabona effort early in the second half, then provided the corner for Danilo to head the fourth.

Another Quaresma cross also led to the fifth goal when Londak punched the ball at team mate Karol Mets and it rebounded into the goal.

Quaresma turned in a Renato Sanches pass for the sixth and substitute Eder added the seventh in a rousing sending-off for the Euro 2012 semi-finalists.

Quaresma’s early double helps Porto stun Bayern 3-1

April 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Porto's Ricardo Quaresma (R) reacts after scoring his second goal past Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during their Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match at Dragao stadium in Porto April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal -

Ricardo Quaresma’s two early goals and a second-half strike from Jackson Martinez helped a slick Porto complete a stunning 3-1 home victory over a sloppy Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.

The Portuguese side exploded into action with two goals in the opening 10 minutes, with Quaresma converting from the penalty spot and finishing neatly as Bayern’s sluggish defending was punished.

Five-times champions Bayern, decimated by injuries, clawed their way back into the tie when midfielder Thiago Alcantara steered home at the far post after 28 minutes.

But Martinez pounced on an error by Jerome Boateng after 65 minutes and rounded Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to re-establish Porto’s two-goal advantage heading into the return leg on April 21.

Bayern came into the game, a repeat of the 1987 European Cup final which Porto won 2-1, ravaged by injuries and robbed of the services of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and David Alaba among others.

It was, however, a different story for Porto, who welcomed back Martinez from a hamstring injury. The Colombia striker wasted little time in making his mark, robbing a dawdling Xabi Alonso of the ball on the edge of the Bayern box before being felled by Neuer’s outstretched leg.

The Bayern keeper was perhaps lucky to receive just a yellow card, but his punishment was swiftly increased as Quaresma stepped up to stroke the penalty into the bottom corner.

There was no time for the visitors’ nerves to settle as Quaresma pounced on another mistake, robbing Dante before dashing through and beating Neuer with an expertly-taken finish with the outside of his boot to make it 2-0 after 10 minutes.

It looked like Bayern could be on the end of an embarrassing scoreline as the hosts’ slick passing was cutting through at will.

But the Germans clawed a goal back on 28 minutes when Boateng’s low cross from the right escaped both Danilo and Bruno Martins Indi to reach Alcantara, who slotted home coolly past Porto keeper Fabiano.

As the excitement rose in the second half, Porto managed to maintain their impressive energy levels and took the game to Bayern once again.

The visitors were grateful to Neuer for pulling off a stunning fingertip save early in the second half to prevent Boateng scoring an own goal, before Porto took a well-deserved and potentially decisive 3-1 lead. Bayern’s dismal defending cost them again when Boateng failed to deal with a high ball and Martinez stole in to round Neuer and sidefoot home.

An increasingly fraught second half was littered with yellow cards and bookings for Porto’s first-choice full backs Danilo and Alex Sandro ruled them out of the second leg in Munich.

(Reuters)

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