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'

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Comments (16)

  1. Justin/rochester

Watching this team play is like dating a really hot girl that is really stupid. You know she looks good but she ends up doing something stupid in public that makes you embarrassed. That first French goal was such a typical bone headed mistake...

Watching this team play is like dating a really hot girl that is really stupid. You know she looks good but she ends up doing something stupid in public that makes you embarrassed. That first French goal was such a typical bone headed mistake from Portugal. Those little mistakes cost us games. Even the second goal was disappointing defensively. That's how teams score against Portugal though. Either bad clearances or not marking anybody in front of goal. France played well in spurts but overall Portugal was the better team(Jesus how many times have you heard that).

I liked what I saw from Danny up front. Despite what some of you might think about him missing some chances, that's not the point. He moves well with and without the ball. He's postiga with speed basically. Eder is to one dimensional in my opinion. Nani played surprisingly well too. Andre Gomes is slower than I thought and he gets beat to the ball easily. Speaking of Andre, him and tiago are so similar out there. I kept confusing the two. I'd rather see Joao Mario in that spot. Eliseu looks ok, definitely a great backup to coentrao(would have probably helped a lot during World Cup). Bruno Alves looked ok.

I'd love to be able to freeze this team and start the euros next week. It scares me how much Danny, tiago,ricardo carvalho, Bruno and to a lesser extent pepe could age by then. I like tiago over William carvalho for various reasons and I'm sure I'm not alone with that. It's hard to make any real big comments because as a whole I think Portugal looked better and they were IN FRANCE! Oh I almost forgot...what happened to Joao Moutinho? He's been playing terrible for Portugal for the last 6-12 months. Put in Joao Mario or Adrien silva or bring up Bruma or Marcos lopes. Moutinho should not be an automatic starter I don't care what he did 2-4 years ago.

When we start players based on past performances that's when we start this bullshit(excuse my language) all over. We might as well get bento to be santos assistant. If you're performing well for club but not playing well with your country well to bad for you. Try harder. The best thing moutinho had was his ability to play hard and play the "Pirlo" role for us. Since he no longer does that, his lack of speed and sharpness is a liability. I'd rather have someone fast in his spot that makes the same errors he does. At least we get more counter attacking speed that way.

Cedric is definitely an upgrade over Joao P. We still have no other goal scoring threat other than Ronaldo and until somebody steps up and decides to take chances by themselves other than Ronaldo we will always lose these big games 2-0 or 2-1 or 1-0. I still can't figure out how Eder has his length and physique and still runs so slow. It's a mystery to me.

I'm writing this during the game by the way so this is all sort of random. Penalty kick...Like I said earlier, Joao Mario comes in and creates a chance with his speed. Moutinho should be benched in favor of him. Dare I say this team looks better without Cristiano? At least they're forced to do things themselves. Sorry these thoughts are very sporadic, I'm just venting while watching and hopefully you guys understand where I'm coming from. Fingers crossed for Denmark!

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  1. Larry USA

i know this was their first loss as a new unit, but I was pleased with their performance. They looked faster, fresher, than what Bento displayed at WC 2014. I liked seeing Tiago in there, making tackles, passes, and hustle. What I'm not impressed...

i know this was their first loss as a new unit, but I was pleased with their performance. They looked faster, fresher, than what Bento displayed at WC 2014. I liked seeing Tiago in there, making tackles, passes, and hustle. What I'm not impressed with is the defense. We have to realize Bruno Alves is WAY too old and slow. His reactions were off, his tackling was awful, and overall performance wasn't the best. The Pepe/Alves combo needs changing. Pepe looked exhausted..I think that Carrvalho got some playing time. He looked sharp and despite Polgas goal, he did well. Andre Gomes did well also. However, putting Ronaldo as the lone striker doesnt work, period. Eder is awful, so we need to think about filling that position, with who I have no idea. Joao Mario took a dive to get us the penalty, not crazy about him either. I like the new look, but we definitely need some work and kinks worked out before Denmark. I'm hopeful, but cautious.

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  1. Dave

Poor start to the match. Portugal really missed Fabio today. The second half was much better. We really needed a striker today to put pressure on the centre backs, France was able to play the ball forward from the back to easily and has a...

Poor start to the match. Portugal really missed Fabio today. The second half was much better. We really needed a striker today to put pressure on the centre backs, France was able to play the ball forward from the back to easily and has a result controlled the midfield in the first 25 mins.

Good to see that at least Santos could change his tactics, something that Bento failed to do on a consistent basis.

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  1. SupremoGino

My player ratings

Positives:

Tiago - Provided some coverage and outlet from midfield, was not out of his depth.

Nani - Missed the post by inches, put a few good crosses in + one on Ronaldo's head.

Pepe - Bailed out our backline at times....

My player ratings

Positives:

Tiago - Provided some coverage and outlet from midfield, was not out of his depth.

Nani - Missed the post by inches, put a few good crosses in + one on Ronaldo's head.

Pepe - Bailed out our backline at times. Solid.

CR7 - Still a + in my book, despite not meeting his incredible standards.

Average:

Andre Gomes - Added his creativity, needs more time to gel.

Cedric - Found his footing as the game grew on.

Ricardo Carvalho - Swept up quite well. He is still miles ahead of Alves. Class

William - A bit better compared to his recent games.

Joao Mario - intriguing player, needs more time.. one to watch for sure.

Negatives:

Eliseu - Horrendous defending all throughout. He is at fault for Pogba's goal. Not even a back-up option. Hoping Santos was saving Antunes for Denmark.

Bruno Alves - Poor passing accuracy from the back, caught standing around in no-mans land during first goal.

Moutinho - What's happened to him? It's known when he plays well, so does Portugal. So crucial and his form has taken a plunge.

Danny - Messed up all our chances. Not the answer. Did someone put a striker curse on Portugal that we are unaware of?

Eder - Pretty much anonymous.

Quaresma - His lack of playing time at Porto is showing. Won the ball back once or twice, and the penalty goal was a bit fortunate. Over hit his crosses.. sad to see age catching up.

Losing to France is not at all bad on the first game of a new era.. but if that's what you call a dark horse in the last world cup, forget about our chances at winning any silverware in the near future.

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  1. jon/usa

Apart the opening 20 minutes in which Portugal could have realistically conceded 3-4 goals, I was actually quite impressed with our overall performance, especially in the second half when France took their foot off the gas. At the end of the day,...

Apart the opening 20 minutes in which Portugal could have realistically conceded 3-4 goals, I was actually quite impressed with our overall performance, especially in the second half when France took their foot off the gas. At the end of the day, the 2-1 scoreline was a fairly accurate reflection of the game as a whole.

Negatives:

- Our defense was absolutely abysmal throughout much of the first half. Cedric and Eliseu showed some quality going forward, but they were very poor defensively - especially Eliseu who apart from possessing a powerful shot and decent recovery speed, looks completely lost when defending for both club and country (perhaps the less dynamic, yet more defensively sound Antunes should start against Denmark). Bruno Alves has scored some crucial goals over his national team career, but I've always considered him to be our biggest liability at the back. He's agonizingly slow, clumsy in the tackle, and for a player of his experience, his positional sense is inexcusably poor. In Ricardo Carvalho, Jose Fonte, Daniel Carrico, Paulo Oliveira, Luis Neto, and Ruben Vezo, we have better alternatives in his position. Had it none been for Pepe, the game would have been over by half time.

- Andre Gomes has been in fantastic form for Valencia this season, so his spot in the starting 11 was probably merited based on his current form. However, he was far from convincing today against the French. He definitely has the potential to be a top-class midfielder, but his decision making still needs a lot of work. He's actually quite similar to Paul Pogba in terms of his physique and playing style, but the difference in quality between the two players is night and day.

- What happened to Joao Moutinho? He was arguably Portugal's most consistent player since his reintroduction in the early Bento days, but he has looked a shadow of his former self ever since the world cup. He's been criticized for his underwhelming and oftentimes subdued performances at Monaco and it looks like this poor form has followed him to the national team. No one can ever question his commitment and work-rate (he still covers every blade of grass on the pitch) but his passing, especially in the final third has been extremely sloppy in recent performances. I lost track of the amount of times his final ball let him down today. He used to be able to dominate matches with his boundless energy and crisp, incisive passing, but we haven't seen this Moutinho in quite some time. His place in the final 11 is no longer a given, especially considering the emergence of Joao Mario.

Positives:

Portugal were the better side in the second half for a variety of reasons: First, France eased up on their pressing, thus giving our midfielders a little more time and space on the ball. Second, the introductions of Ricardo Carvalho and William significantly improved our defense with the former looking far more convincing than Bruno Alves and the latter adding some much needed physicality to the midfield. Ricardo Carvalho's best days are certainly behind him, but he still has the class and intelligence to perform at a high level. He should definitely start alongside Pepe in Denmark. William has been far from his best this season at Sporting, but he absolutely bossed the midfield in the second half, proving that he is more than capable of competing against world-class opposition. He also showed off his underrated passing range with a brilliant long ball to Nani.

- Tiago looked a little overwhelmed early in the first half, but his overall performance was quite impressive. While he certainly has the positional sense and tackling ability to play as the defensive midfielder, I think he is more effective in a more advanced role. He is by no means a long term option, yet his experience could prove vital throughout this qualification campaign.

- Even though their end-product could have been better, the mobile trio of Ronaldo, Danny, and Nani showed plenty of promise. Danny may not be the greatest finisher in the world, but he definitely has the characteristics to thrive in this false 9 role. He linked up well with Ronaldo and Nani and his movement both on and off the ball was superb. Ronaldo was far from his best, but this was largely due to the brilliant performance of his Real Madrid teammate, Varane.

Given what we learned today vs. France, I would use this 11 against the Danes.

GK: Patricio
Defense: Cedric, Pepe, Carvalho, Antunes
Midfield: William, Tiago, Moutinho (I'd give him one last chance)
Attack: Danny, Nani, Ronaldo

FORCA!

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  1. alvaro magalhaes - London

Portugal started nervously as was plain to see but then showed what they are capable of, and that is reassuring ahead of a key game on tuesday. Shame portugal couldn't finally beat france, but only a friendly and I am so glad to see the back of...

Portugal started nervously as was plain to see but then showed what they are capable of, and that is reassuring ahead of a key game on tuesday. Shame portugal couldn't finally beat france, but only a friendly and I am so glad to see the back of paulo bento, look at all the great players we now have without a teimoso in charge: tiago is back! awesome. carvalho can still contribute a lot to the key game on tuesday, they are looking good, que sera sera and viva portugal and my auntie Xica, bless her, she gets nervous watching the portugal games.

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  1. Stephen Fernandes

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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  1. Mario Mota

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....

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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  1. 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:...

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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  1. 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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