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Portugal ease to win after ding-dong battle against Serbia

Portugal ease to win after ding-dong battle against Serbia
By Eurosport

07/09/2019 at 21:20Updated 07/09/2019 at 22:22

Euro 2020 Qualifying; group B: Serbia 2 Milenkovic (68), Mitrovic (85) 4 Portugal Carvalho (40), Guedes (58), Ronaldo (80), Silva (86)

A quite bizarre Euro 2020 qualifier ended 4-2 in favour of Portugal tonight, who edged out their hosts Serbia with a fair degree of ease despite the scoreline.

Portugal started the brighter and deservedly took the lead through William Carvalho's toe poke after a mistake from Serbian goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic, and the lead was doubled by Goncalo Guedes' low left-footed drive on the hour.

Serbia pulled on back through Nikola Milenkovic's thumping header, but Portuguese parity was restored by the great Crisitiano Ronaldo who coolly slotted home.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 99th international goal

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 99th international goalGetty Images

Serbia ultimately paid the price for coming out too tentatively in the first half, and Fernando Santos' men did not show their absolute best of their brilliance today, but they sealed a professional job and the three points that will see them leapfrog their hosts with their first win of their Euros qualifying campaign.

Talking point - Serbia too tentative

The Serbian's 4-2-3-1 shape looked rather rigid at times and sometimes hindered their abilities to break at pace, and when in the defensive phases, there was no proper urgency from the Serbs to win the ball back quickly. With that, it allowed players like Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes to orchestrate proceedings and dominate the game's tempo.

Player ratings

Serbia: Dmitrovic 5, Milenkovic 6, Maksimovic 6, Nastasic 5, Kolarov 6, Matic 5, Milivojevic 5, Lazovic 6, Tadic 7, Kostic 5, Mitrovic 7

Portugal: Patricio 6, Semedo 6, Fonte 6. Dias 5, Guerreiro 6, Danilo 6, Carvalho 7, Fernandes 7, Silva 8, Ronaldo 7, Guedes 7, Cancelo 6, Felix 6

Man of the match: Bernardo Silva, Portugal

The Manchester City man was the crucial cog in the Portuguese engine this evening, directing the play, dropping deep and controlling the tempo with a fair amount of ease. His excellent movement off the ball made him a constant thorn in the side for the Serbian defence, and his goal was the least of what he deserved after an excellent display.

Key events

42' GOAL! A terrible mishap from Dmitrovic who drops Fernandes' cross, and under pressure from Ronaldo, the Serbian 'keeper drops a clanger and William Carvalho prods home.

58' GOAL! A fabulous slaloming run from Valencia forward Goncalo Guedes which results in a left-footed rocket past Dmitrovic and doubles the Portuguese's lead.

68' GOAL! Serbia are right back in it! A towering Nikola Milenkovic header from a Kolarov outswinging corner halves the deficit and Serbia are within one!

80' GOAL! It's surely all over, and guess who? Cristiano Ronaldo is on target, slid through by Bernardo Silva, and the great man does the rest with aplomb. Siiiiiiiiii!!

85' GOAL! Quite remarkably, Serbia are back in it again! Tadic is at the fore yet again, and Aleksandar Mitrovic spanks a rocket through Rui Patricio at the near post and gets Serbia within reach yet again! They can't could they?

86' GOAL! *John McEnroe voice* Are you kidding me?! It's 4-2! Russia score to go within one, but Bernardo Silva slides Portugal back into their two goal cushion with a composed finish after Guerreiro's pull back.

Key stats