France 2-1 Portugal

Euro 2016 hosts France proved too strong for a new look Portugal squad tonight at the Stade de France in Paris. Karim Benzema opened the scoring and Paul Pogba doubled the advantage in the second half. Ricardo Quaresma answered from the penalty spot with his fourth international goal.

Fernando Santos' first squad included seven changes from the side that faced Albania, featuring Tiago in central midfield and newcomer Cédric at right back. Danny and Nani occupied the wings while Ronaldo was made Portugal's lone striker, a strategy also employed by Carlos Quieroz during his tenure.

If Santos was looking for a test of his proposed schemes, France were more than willing to provide it. During the first half, the French asked plenty of questions of Portugal's defence, particularly down the flanks.

The hosts pressed early and found the opener after just three minutes through Karim Benzema. Antoine Griezmann burst free down the left and crossed the ball along the top of the penalty area to Bacary Sagna who dispatched a fierce effort on goal that Rui Patrico did well to save. Unfortunately, Benzema was in the right spot at the right time to score his 25th international goal for France.

Griezmann continued to torment the Portuguese defence, testing Patrício with another shot in the 7th minute after being sent clear down the right wing. Cristiano Ronaldo's first meaningful contribution of the game, meanwhile, was to catch out the French defence with a quick throw in to Danny. Despite finding himself all alone in the French penalty area, the Zenit St. Petersburg playmaker's shot was a scuffed effort over the crossbar. 

Just after the quarter hour mark, Pogba made his presence known by bursting down the right flank onto a neat throughball out of the defence that caught Eliseu too far upfield. Pogba's dangerous cross was just cleared with Benzema lurking.

Portugal had their best chance of the first half in the 21st minute when Nani stole onto a pass deep in the French half. The Sporting winger cut inside on his left foot and attempted a sneaky, controlled shot but the ball passed just the wrong side of the post. André Gomes made some space to shoot after a Portugal corner, but he too fluffed his lines, launching his shot over the crossbar. 

Minutes later, Benzema burst through on goal after picking off a poor lateral pass from Eliseu. The Benfica fullback, to his credit, raced back to cut out the danger. Portugal managed to control the French attack through the end of the first half, but were unable to create decent chances themselves.

Second half revival

Portugal started the better of the two sides in the second half, and Ronaldo very nearly equalised with 51 minutes gone. Nani's excellent cross into the box was just the right height for Ronaldo, whose header was brilliantly saved by the French keeper. Portugal remained in control and substitute William Carvalho picked out Nani with a magnificent long ball that the winger chipped into the path of Danny. As in the first half, however, Danny completely botched his shot attempt and the French defence recovered. 

Santos introduced Éder and Quaresma in the 67th to apply more pressure, but the French responded with yet another goal, this time from Juventus midfielder, Paul Pogba. Patrice Evra, not for the first time on the night, scampered away from Cédric and squared to Benzema who teed up Pogba to score France's second goal from the edge of the penalty area. 

Minutes later, the hosts nearly made it three when Matuidi burst past João Moutinho, but his finish just missed the right hand corner of the net. Portugal tried to regain their composure, with Danny, Quaresma, and Ronaldo combined well in the 75th minute. Danny headed Quaresma's cross into the path of Ronaldo who once again was denied as his shot was deflected for a corner.

Quaresma initiates comeback

It was to be Ronaldo's final contribution in the match, with the Portugal captain making way for João Mário. Less than a minute later, the youngster won a somewhat dubious penalty after being clipped by Pogba at the edge of the eighteen. With Ronaldo substituted, Ricardo Quaresma confidently applied the finishing touch to score his first international goal in over six years.

Portugal created several more chances to score in quick succession with a Quaresma free kick deflected narrowly wide followed by a stinging effort from João Mário that flew over the crossbar. 

But the French maintained their composure and held out for the victory. Though far from a finished product, Portugal did show improvement compared to the match against Albania. Tiago played well centrally, while Cédric, despite showing his inexperience against Evra at times, showed that he too may eventually be an upgrade to João Pereira. The Seleção spurned several decent chances to score along the way and will feel that on the balance of play they may have deserved more.

Portugal face current Group I leaders Denmark on Tuesday in an intriguing Euro 2016 qualifying match.

by Nathan Motz 

 

Portugal:

Rui Patrício, Cedric, Pepe, Bruno Alves (Ricardo Carvalho, 46), Eliseu, André Gomes (William Carvalho, 46), Tiago (Éder, 68), João Moutinho, Nani (Quaresma, 68), Danny (Vieirinha, 85), Cristiano Ronaldo (João Mário, 76)

Goals:

[1-0] Benzema, 3'

[2-0] Pogba, 69'

[2-1] Quaresma (pen), 77'

Overall Rating (3)

3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Hi Guys,

    Did anyone not see that the second goal was clearly offside. The guy crossing the ball was at least half a metre ahead of any player and the ball

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    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Considering this was a game with a new manager, new players, against a tough team away, they did well. Overall the team is showing some amazing potential. Tiago would have made a big difference during the world cup but that's in the past now. Also seeing a kid like Joao Mario play is something we would have never seen under Bento. Great first cap for the kid and I wish him luck. I know he's still very young but I wonder if Marco Lopes will see a cap before the Euro's or if we'll have to wait before the next WC to see him get a cap.

    During our game, Albania almost beat Denmark. It was good to see a top competitor in our group stop points ahead of our match up against them. Serbia also tied in our group. So despite losing to Albania, the group is still fully open and hopefully we get to see our first win in our mid-week game.

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  • Guest - Chuck

    Fun game to watch! I like the danny-ronaldo-nani offense, but I don't think it works with a 4-3-3. I'd like to see a 4-1-2-1-2.
    GK: Patricio
    Defense: Cedric, Pepe, Fonte/Carvalho, Antunes
    Midfield: Carvalho, Tiago, Gomes/Mario, Danny
    Forward: Ronaldo, Nani

    Very excited for the game against Denmark!! Forca Portugal!

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  • Guest - jesualdo

    I think if Q7 played the whole 90 mins, we would have won. Ronaldo needs quality players around him. Q7 is only second to ronaldo when it comes to brilliance.

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  • Guest - Nasrul

    Rated 4 out of 5 stars

    First of all, great to see Ricardo Carvalho and Tiago in the team. They are the motivation and inspiration for the youngsters. I do hope Jose Fonte will be given a chance to shine for the next game. Overall it was a good start from F. Santos. However, I still dislike Ronaldo behavior on the pitch. He is a captain and the lead. He needs to support his teammates and behave professionally when feeling disappointed. Last but not least, forca Portugal.

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  • Guest - Steve

    Did anyone see Bernardo Silva play in the u21 win against Holland???? Why is this guy not in the senior team? At 21, he is more than ready to make the transition, he is an amazing player and needs to be in this squad now!!

    Overall it was good performance, the only frustrations were Eder, Eliseu and Alves. Moutinho is past his best (hence the need for Bernardo) and Nani needs to learn how to pass the ball. Looking foward to the game against Denmark as the first real test.

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  • I just saw the highlites and really couldn't truly make an opinion about any player other than hope Santos makes the right player combinations against Denmark, again the first goal was RIDICULOUS and i hope coach Santos does something to cure the dyslexia that is ailing our defence, because if that is not corrected were doomed , we can't win when we can easily give up a goal.

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  • Rated 3 out of 5 stars

    Portugal lack finish.

    I could write a detailed breakdown of every position and its faults but the bottom line is France scores on their chances and Portugal let their opponents off the hook, time and time again. Lets be honest, Nani and Danny SHOULD of had a goal a piece (at least). Ronaldo forced the goalie into a glorious save, the other guys scuff their shots and miss the net badly on, what should be, blasted in goals.

    Moutinho you are breaking my heart. I think its time he is replaced, it is a tough pill to swallow as for the longest time Moutinho was out best player after Ronaldo but he current form is awful. Joao Mario comes on and its a new team, that is not a coincidence. With guys like Bernardo Silva and Marcos Lopes coming up and playing well, the years of Moutinho are done.

    Eliseu was the worst player on the pitch, probably trying to do too much instead of just playing. Not sure why he was so out of position so often but Antunes should be given a go. Also anyone but Bruno Alves, i dont care who they put, Carvalho or Fonte should play with Pepe or together for that matter.

    If coach Santos was to gamble he could play both William C and Tiago with Tiago occupying the Moutinho role and William C playing a pure DM position.

    I am confident the coach saw everything we saw and he will correct/address the LB and CB positions come Denmark. I think Ricardo Carvalho starts along with Pepe and Antunes comes in offer greater stopping power on the flanks. The midfield will be curious, I think Moutinho deserves one more shot but thats it, if he plays like that again he should be relugated to bench and then not even that once Joao Mario or Bernardo step up and flat out take the spot away.

    Forca Portugal!!

    from Peniche, Portugal
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  • Moutinho will be fine the next game ...he was saving himself on Saturday because the Denmark game is Tuesday !!

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  • Guest - johnieooooooo

    -------------------------Lopes--------------------------

    Cedric-----------Pepe-------Carvalho-------Antunes

    Moutinho----------William----------------Tiago

    ---------------------Danny---------------------------

    Ronaldo------------------------------------nani

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