Denmark 0-1 Portugal

Fernando Santos' first competitive game as Seleção coach ended with a dramatic victory for Portugal thanks to a 95th-minute Cristiano Ronaldo header.

After a promising start for Portugal, an attritional game of few chances ensued in the driving rain in Denmark. Krohn-Dehli hit the post for the hosts, while Ronaldo missed a one-on-one.

A goalless draw looked on the cards until a magnificent cross in the dying seconds by substitute Quaresma was headed into the net by Portugal's captain to spark wild celebrations.

Santos made two changes in relation to his starting XI against France, the two Carvalhos coming into the side, Ricardo replacing Bruno Alves at centre-back and William getting the nod ahead of André Gomes.

Bright start

Portugal started positively, with William and Tiago providing solid cover in midfield and Moutinho seemingly finding his passing range to bring the mobile front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Danny and Nani into play.

Ronaldo forced Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (son of the legendary ex Manchester United and Sporting stopper, Peter) into a sharp save with an angled drive early on. Nani had two chances in quick succession in the 26th minute. First he scuffed his shot from 20 yards then headed over an inviting opportunity after being wonderfully set up by Ronaldo.

The Seleção failed to build on their bright start however, with the Danes enjoying the better of the final 15 minutes of the first half. The home side were desperately close to taking the lead on 34 minutes as the ball broke to Krohn-Dehli on the left of the area, and the forward's curled effort beat Patrício but came back off the post.

Denmark applied pressure until the interval without creating clear-cut chances, and Portugal were next to threaten as early in the second half Ronaldo missed the sort of chance he normally gobbles up. Danny did well to rob the ball on the edge of the box and play a neat pass to the Seleção captain who was all alone in front of Schmeichel. The young goalkeeper did well to close down CR7 quickly, but it has to go down as a bad miss.

There was no lack of commitment from either team, but the match then went into a drab spell with neither goalkeeper called into action and the crowd strangely muted.

Positive substitutions

Santos tried to inject some life into Portugal with three forward-thinking substitutions, João Mário replacing the disappointing Nani and Éder and Quaresma coming on for Danny and Tiago.

The experienced coach was rewarded for his audacity as in the very last minute Quaresma collected Moutinho's pass, ran towards the bye-line and sent over a peach of a cross that Ronaldo met perfectly to give Portugal victory and put the Seleção right back on course for Euro 2016 qualification.

Worthy of special mention was Ricardo Carvalho who rolled back the years with a master-class in the art of high-quality defending.

by Tom Kundert



Kasper Schmeichel, Lars Jacobsen, Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Nicolai Boilesen (Simon Poulsen, 58), William Kvist, Pierre Hojbjerg, Christian Eriksen (Thomas Kahlenberg, 84), Lasse Vibe (Uffe Bech, 46), Martin Krohn-Dehli, Nicklas Bendtner


Rui Patrício, Cedric, Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Eliseu, William Carvalho, Tiago (Quaresma, 84), João Moutinho, Danny (Éder, 77), Nani (João Mário, 68), Cristiano Ronaldo


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  • Guest - jon/usa

    This victory had Fernando Santos written all over it. Pragmatic, organized, and disciplined. I would have preferred to see him take a more proactive, possession-oriented approach, but I completely understand Santos' logic. Pepe and Carvalho completely neutralized Bendtner, William did extremely well to limit the space in between the lines, and Moutinho and Tiago provided much needed defensive support to Cedric and Eliseu. I was also impressed with the fluid movement and link-up play between Ronaldo, Nani, and Danny. Again, the end-product could have been a little better, but the overall play was very promising.

    I also have to give a lot of credit to Quaresma. I've been one of his most vocal critics on Portugoal, but that cross to Ronaldo was absolutely brilliant. I would like nothing more to see him prove us doubters wrong.


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  • Rated 4 out of 5 stars

    Having endured 89 1/2 minutes of the Denmark-Portugal match, here are the quick observations on the performance the Selecao das Quinas as the clock winds down:
    - dire
    - dreary
    - unadventurous
    - boring
    The brave new era of Fernando Santos begins. . . exactly the same as his time with the ultra-conservative, defense-minded Greeks. Too bad we don't have an Angelos Charisteas to pop in the occasional goal.
    Hold on, there. . . a headed goal from CR7 with 12 seconds remaining in the 5 minutes of stoppage time. Yeah, typical Greeks!
    Oh, well, it wasn't pretty (in fact, it was downright ugly), but it's three points at least.

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  • Guest - Nelson Oliveira

    This game would have have been draw or worse under Bento. It's too bad we can't replay the WC with Tiago and RC and RQ.

    Now we are winning, like greece, but winning. It was an ugly game and Denmark played physical, but the ref was good. We still have problems. Antunes over eliseu on the depth chart, please before it's too late. William is in poor form. Nani has been so -so. He narrowly missed a difficult header, if it went in everyone would saying hes back. This game illustrates why you need quaresma on the team. But don't make him a starter, you will regret it.

    Cheers to 3 points!

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  • Guest - Roberto

    I’m actually quite happy to see some negative comments here. It demonstrates that most people do watch, and do care. Couldn’t help but be extremely happy with the 3 points, especially in the hours after that incredible goal, but having thought about it, there would be some serious backlash on Santos if not for that 95th minute miracle.

    We would all be saying “no goals (besides a penalty) in his first 2 games”, “he’s too defensive”, “he’s not getting the best out of Ronaldo”, “we have no striker”, “we created zero chances in the 2nd half and had less possession (by far) than Denmark”, etc.

    While it’s true that we looked much more organized at the back (R. Carvalho was calm as always, Cedric was impressive, William wins the vast majority of 50/50 balls, Tiago cleans up nicely…), you can see a serious lack of a link between the midfield and our forward line. We had only a couple decent opportunities, which came only from individual efforts, usually from Cristiano.

    Moutinho should be playing that role –but he’s just not that kind of player anymore. If you’ve followed him lately at Monaco, you’ll know that he is best used when employed as an 8 and not a 10. Danny can fill that void when Moutinho is working to win balls back and send them front, but as a false 9, he’s simply waiting too far up to the field to be able to provide that link-up (which is fine, considering our striker options are otherwise pathetic).

    I’m not sure Moutinho is still the answer. Tiago is a quick fix for a team that’s been disorganized in midfield for too long, but I’m not sure he’s a Euro 2016 solution either. I’d like to see Adrien get some time.

    Finally, now that the U21s have successfully qualified for the Euro in June (at record-setting pace, by the way…15 consecutive wins), we should be looking to integrate some key members of that team into the senior squad.

    Rui Patricio: 7/10 –not much work; looked strong on crosses, but shaky with his feet
    Cedric: 7/10 –showed physical strength; understands his role and position; good attitude; worked hard; made no mistakes
    Pepe: 8/10 –solid; looked calmer with Ricardo by his side again; made Bendtner look even worse than he is
    R. Carvalho: 9/10 –man of the match, if not for CR7’s goal; as calm as when he was 28; looked surprisingly mobile for his age; covered Eliseu’s mistakes
    Eliseu: 5/10 –our weak link; decent when he has the ball in opposing end; petrifying with the ball in our own end –even more so when defending
    William: 7/10 –didn’t overly stand out, which is probably a good thing; always organized, always a threat in 50/50 situations; not the best with the ball –passes looked off point at times
    Tiago: 7/10 –cleaned up well; distributed well; expertly played the role he plays with Atletico, but seemed tired before being subbed off; short-term solution to get us organized
    Moutinho: 6/10 –simply needs to be better –started strong, but phased out by a strong physical Danish midfield –did not link up with forwards often enough
    Nani: 4/10 –invisible; cheap crossing, rare link-up with Ronaldo; missed a decent headed opportunity, which he should have left to Tiago who was all alone behind him
    Ronaldo: 9/10 –yes, the goal helps –but he was very good even before then, creating the vast majority of any opportunity that came our way
    Danny: 7/10 –did what was asked of him, without really standing out; played Ronaldo in nicely for a glorious opportunity at the start of the 2nd half

    (Joao Mario): 7/10 –provided a real spark once again, without creating too much; his enthusiasm and fresh legs were appreciated by those around him
    (Eder): 4/10 –slow, created nothing, no technique whatsoever, doesn’t link up well; easily the worst striker I’ve seen play for our national team; 15 caps, still no goals
    (Quaresma): 8/10 –seems to be effective as a “super-sub”; great run and cross for Ronaldo’s winner; would be interested to see if he can keep this pace playing 60-80 mins

    from Montreal, QC, Canada
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  • Guest - Ivo

    Well, Portugal grinded out yet another qualification victory. But as some others have pointed out, they did not look very convincing. I only caught the last 20 or 30 minutes of the game, but I was not impressed by what I saw. The team was just not effectively retaining possession and their link up play was being easily snuffed out by the Danes. I was convinced the game would end in a dull 0-0 stalemate, as I'm sure we all were. I'm obviously happy they somehow pulled it off but even the play that led to the goal was extremely lucky. Quaresma just whipped the ball in from a not great angle and luckily for him, it just happened to land on C Ron's head. I'd like to see better possession and link up play by Portugal in subsequent games. Thankfully this was only the first competitive game under Santos so this should happen naturally.

    I'm also with those who would like to see an even greater youth presence in this squad. As soon as possible, I think Marcos Lopes should be given a call up once his injury is healed. Given how great Bernardo Silva looked for the U21s I think he should not be far off as well (that goal he scored after being knocked to the ground was amazing). I honestly didn't think R. Carvalho still had this much quality left in him, which makes me a bit less concerned about calling up a young defender, but this is still an area where I think Portugal should be focusing on integrating youth, especially now that Carvalho is there so they can benefit from his experience.

    In any case, we got the win and qualification is back on track. No more slip ups now please.

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  • First win in Denmark since 1995? Just what we needed.

    When Santos came in, the #1 thing I thought he could help with was the #1 thing the team has lacked since Euro 2012: an organized defense. Forget about all those misses in front of goal. We're not fixing that legendary ill anytime soon. But Portugal's defense hasn't been this porous in years.

    While a clean sheet against Denmark in Copenhagen is more flattering than the defensive performance per se, I'll take it. The team needs to build from the back again and this is a good start for Santos' first competitive match.

    Looking forward to progress that lies ahead. But Quaresma unlocked it in the end, Ronaldo was clinical in the clutch when he needed to be, and the rest need to up their game at least a little.

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  • Guest - Chuck

    Very exciting to see a 4-1-2-1-2. The first half was exciting and bold, but I didn't see the second half.

    There have been many concerns that our midfield didn't connect with our front three. This is exactly where our youth should come in. Bernardo Silva, Marco Lopes, Bruma, Joao Mario, and Andre Gomes can hopefully solve our problems come 2016.

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  • Guest - berto

    I see things differently than most. I saw a goal that was the result of a bad call. We were very fortunate yesterday. Can we imagine if that goal went against us the uproar. Most portuguese would be complaining of a conspiracy. We lack creativity but most we don't play with gusto. Not championship soccer. I've stated here many times we don't play aggressively.

    from United States
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  • Guest - Frank

    Portugal is rebuilding, after years of decent success we now demand it. I think we need to exercise some realistic patience, it takes time to build a cohesive unit, 1 friendly and 1 competitive game, results have been great. Portugal grinds out an ugly win in Denmark.. Great result for a team under radical change. Our last great team was the "Golden Generation " . The best kids in Portugal who grew up together playing football for Portugal, the same success now with our under 21-20 & 19s. The future looks great, I agree with the comments about players always looking to get Ronaldo the ball. This has to be changed, there is no point in bringing youngsters if they are not allowed to play freely to their abilities due to the constant pressure of pleasing Ronaldo.

    Go Portugal!
    My favorite Portugal Game of all time
    Portugal Vs England Euro 96!! Some of the most beautiful football ever witnessed.

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  • Guest - Jonathan

    TOO much defense from Santos its the queiroz era all over again, let the other team dictate play while they sit back and absorb pressure that is not how you play, you will get burned eventually. Anyways happy for the win, how about this formation:
    Pepe Carvalho Fonte
    Tiago William joao mario danny
    roanldo bruma coentrao

    Thats how we should be playing with 3 at the black

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