Portugal 1-0 Argentina

Fernando Santos' Portugal clocked up a third successive single-goal victory as a late diving header by Raphael Guerreiro from a wonderful Ricardo Quaresma cross proved enough to beat Argentina in a friendly international played in England tonight. 

It completes a memorable five days for the Lorient left-back, who enjoyed a sparkling debut for Portugal against Armenia on Friday night.

The sequence of wins provides a good foundation for the new coach. Iffy performances with good results is far more encouraging than the other way round. 

However, Portugal were far from impressive, with the South Americans looking a slicker outfit throughout the match, especially during a one-sided first half. In a low-key game bereft of noteworthy action, most of the players seemed to be making it their priority not to get injured as the club season gets into full swing. The much hyped Messi & Ronaldo show failed to materialise, both playing just 45 minutes, with flashes of skill but little of substance. 

Solid defensive unit

Argentina passed the ball around nicely in the opening 25 minutes especially, with Portugal often chasing shadows, but goalkeeper Beto showed impeccable handling when called upon, and both Bruno Alves and Pepe put in fine displays. Another plus point was the displays of three Seleção debutants, Tiago Gomes, José Fonte and Adrien, who all looked comfortable and did a decent job. 

Yet a continuing worry for the Seleção is a distinct lack of cohesion. The midfield trio of André Gomes, João Moutinho and Tiago were slack in their passing and lacked dynamism, while up front the experimental trident of Danny, Nani and Ronaldo are yet to click after four matches together. Indeed, in all four games of the Santos era, Portugal have only scored when a conventional striker has come on as a substitute. 

So plenty to think about for Fernando Santos, who admitted after the match that it had not been a good performance by the Seleção. The roaring success of Raphael Guerreiro may encourage the coach to start the long-awaited renewal process of the national team when the next matches come along in March. As discussed in depth on this site, there are no lack of options (see Portugal's midfield goldmine and Are Portugal on the verge of another Golden Generation? articles). 

 

Portugal: Beto, Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Pepe (José Fonte, 46), Tiago Gomes (Raphael Guerreiro, 52), Tiago (William Carvalho, 78), João Moutinho, André Gomes (Adrien Silva, 66), Danny (Éder, 46), Nani e Cristiano Ronaldo (Ricardo Quaresma, 46)

Argentina: Guzman, Facundo Roncaglia, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Otamendi, Christian Ansaldi (Jonathan Silva, 73), Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia, Javier Pastore (Roberto Pereyra, 73), Angel Di Maria (Erik Lamela, 61), Lionel Messi (Nicolas Gaitan, 46) e Gonzalo Higuain (Carlos Tevez, 62) 

Goals:

[1-0] Raphael Guerreiro, 90'

 

Match reaction:

 

Portugal coach Fernando Santos:

"The first 20 minutes were very bad, we couldn't get the ball, Argentina dominated, attacked us and did what they wanted. I rectified some positions, and we improved from the 25-minute mark, but even so Argentina remained on top. In this first phase there were more negative aspects than positive ones.

"In the second half we improved and in the last ten or fifteen minutes we were on top and ended up getting the goal. I'm not happy with the performance; we have the ability to do better. But I can't fault the players for the effort they put in and above all I'm happy we have beaten Argentina for the first time in 42 years." 

 

Ricardo Quaresma: 

"I'm confident and things are going well for me. I'm going to continue working hard so things continue that way." 

 

Nani:

"The coach is mixing the team up. It's difficult to play excellent games when we don't play together and we change systems. But things are going well, we're motivated, we're winning and we have to continue with this mentality. The good performances will come afterwards."

 

José Fonte: 

"It was an emotional moment. Only I know what I went through to get here. I remembered how I worked on my own, the tough times in England. This is the culmination of many years of fighting towards a goal. Making my Portugal debut at Old Trafford, a mythical stadium, winning and not conceding goals... I couldn't ask for more." 

 

Adrien: 

"Everything has a time to happen. Today my moment arrived and I tried to step up to it and help the team. We achieved our aim, which was to win." 

 

 by Tom Kundert 

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Overall Rating (2)

5 out of 5 stars

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  • Guest - jordan/toronto

    Before I give my thoughts on Portugal's performances since Santos' arrival, I want to show a bit of appreciation for his successes right off the bat. After a respectable inaugural 2-1 loss to a tough opponent in France, Santos has overseen three consecutive clean sheets. This was accomplished three times throughout the Bento's four year tenure: in 2011, vs Finland, Norway, Luxembourg and Cyprus, 2012 vs Czech Republic, Spain and Panama, and 2013 vs Azerbaijan, Russia and Croatia. In these games, only Spain, Russia and Croatia stand out as impressive clean sheets. Unfortunately, in recent years, Portugal has become a team that simply do not keep clean sheets. A country that could once go through qualifying campaigns allowing only a handful of goals (5 GA in WC 2006 and 2010, compared to 12 in Euro 2012, and 9 in WC 2014), Portugal's defensive record has become abysmal against underwhelming nations, in consideration to what it once was. Keeping a clean sheet in Denmark was impressive, keeping one against world cup runners up was a pleasant surprise, and keeping one at home to Armenia was a reasonably expected outcome which has become less and less expected in recent years. Hats off to Santos on thus far stabilizing Portugal's situation at the back.

    However, on the subject of the games themselves, Portugal has been disappointing as have been some selections. In all games, the attack has seemed stagnant, lackluster and only vibrant in short spurts between deadlocked intervals. As for the selections, I feel that this team will only capitalize on their fullest potential when the right keys are in place. At the time being, no better partner for Pepe exists than Fonte yet his chance has been barely given. After an impressive performance against Armenia, Guerreiro was reduced to a sub today (and we all know how that ended), and young, energetic, fruitful players like William Carvalho and Joao Mario have barely been given a look. Portugal's strikers continue to disappoint while Quaresma's contributions (I myself am surprised by the fact that Quaresma has played a part in every one of the four goals scored under Santos) have seen him yet to be rewarded with a start. Also, Moutinho continues to start every game, based solely on merit, while his form has been consistently declining (disappointing for everyone really as he was so important for Portugal from 2011-2013 and one of my favourite players to watch when in form). A look at Portugal's U21 team, or even Santos' bench for that matter, show that there are viable alternatives for the complacent under-performers who have failed to stand out in the past four games. Other players meanwhile, have performed well under Santos, yet are simply at too late a stage in their careers to be considered as serious participants at Euro 2016. I hope to see a vast improvement in both personnel and performance by Portugal's next fixtures in 2015. As always, Força Portugal and may we continue in and sustain the positive direction that this team shows potential of going in

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  • Thoughts on the game and result:
    I didn't watch the game so I wont comment, but what a result and what a dream few games for Raphael Guerreiro :). I'm also very happy that Adrien finally got to see some game time. Everyone will get a chance under Santos regardless of friendships and favourites. Portugal suddenly have a lot of options in all positions and even the central forward position seems to have more options with Dani now playing there and the possibility in the future that Cristiano Ronaldo (not saying he should just saying it could be an option) and/or Ricardo Quaresma (he played there against Chelsea in the Champions league a very long time ago) could play in that position as well.

    @ Steve

    Hi Steve,

    I completely agree with you and I was one of those people that didn't support his inclusion on the grounds that he may be disruptive. In hindsight its obvious that I was wrong and I'll be the first person to admit that I got that wrong. Looking back it seems quite obvious that he should have been there, and even more so, when you look at the players that were ahead of him;

    Nani (not playing)
    Vieirinha (coming off an injury)
    Varela (someone Quaresma had displaced at Porto)
    Rafa (one good season for a top half team in Braga)

    @ Mario Mota

    Hi Mario,

    I must admit I've always loved reading your posts as I've found them quite informative and enjoyable to read, but I'm sorry to say that I do not agree with your last one. I hope you do not mind my critique, but I have taken you up on your offer to defend your decision by offering the following rebuttals to your comments.

    1. "In the total of 24 games (several as sub) RQ was completely rusty"

    OK first of all I agree that he was not at his best in the Liga but neither were the players that were selected ahead of him and that is crucial to the overall argument. If you do not agree then please state facts as to why the other players ahead of him were better rather than saying why he should not have been there. In my opinion, Ricardo had displayed in some games that he still had the ability to be a game winner and game changer.

    2. "and was playing not even close to 50% of his top level"

    Where are you getting this fact from? It just seems to be a bit random. There is always a tendency for people in society to label things with figures so that their overall article, response or piece of writing carries more weight, is more believable and subsequently can influence how people see the overall argument of what you are trying to say. But to be credible, they need to have some factual basis and not just your own or other peoples observations. I apologise if you have in fact researched this or quoted a research article, but if you have not then in summary this is just your opinion and therefore has not been proven as a fact.

    2. While RQ clearly never belonged near the national team last year, he has put in the hard work to earn to earn his call ups this season

    OK, so the comments right before this about Ricardo just being at 50% were incorrect and therefore your conclusion of Ricrado 'clearly' not belonging anywhere near the team which based on this eronious fact is also now in doubt. You have based this on your own unresearched opinions, observations or possible others you know (again sorry in advance if you actually have not research on this), and presented it as a fact that we should all believe 'clearly'. Further to this, it could be argued that Richardo has actually played less this season than he did last season. From the start of this season he wasn't even coming on as a sub at Porto. Despite this however, when he played for Portugal after not playing much for Porto he stared, and in the four games that he played, he has played a part of ALL, yes ALL the goals that Portugal have scored. I'd say that there is strong evidence that Portugal's strong resurgence is in a large part due to Ricardo being in the team.

    3. "I was one of those people that believed he didn't belong on the squad and will gladly defend that"

    A wise colleague once said to me that you don't throw good money after bad. It's OK to get it wrong now and then. For me, your still for the most part and informed football person with a wide range of knowledge on Portuguese football, but in the case of Ricardo Quaresma, I simply disagree and reject your assertions that he should not have been on the squad.

    thanks for reading

    Steve

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • I never mind people going against my thoughts or debating me, message boards would be boring without that ;) The item I want to ensure I make clear is that I'm good with RQ on the national team at this point. I think he has earned his way back into the national team.

    On your last quote:
    A wise colleague once said to me that you don't throw good money after bad
    If I was throwing good money after bad, I would still be saying he should be on the national team which isn't the case, I support him playing over Nani. However to pretend as if I supported him all the way would be BS.

    You highlighted the parts he's played this season on the national team, which I fully agree with but people have to look at the WC in the time frame 2013 to May of 2014 when most managers submitted their squads. No one can debate that as of the start of last season, he was a nobody with no club. By Jan 2014 he had just started to relaunch his career. Here as some stats to support why most people at that point in time did not support having RQ on the team:

    Of the 23 games Porto played from Jan to the end of the season:
    Played 14 full 90min games out of 23 games.
    7 additional games where he was called off the bench or subbed off
    Racked up an impressive 9 yellows and 1 red during that time frame

    Outside of the RQ fans, I think if you go back on any comment board you will see the majority agreed that he shouldn't have been on the national team. Does anyone really think that the RQ of the 2013-2014 season would make it on the Brazil, German, Argentina, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, etc... national teams? Hindsight makes for great "what if" conversations but there is no way to read the future. My orginal comment was a reaction for calling people stupid for not having supported RQ. I wanted to point out that there was a clear list of reasons why most were against him at the time.

    For this season RQ is playing full games, he's not racking up yellows, and seems to have cooled off his hot head he was famous for. There are many players that hit those final playing years in their 30s and give 100%. It seems that something has clicked in for him so I'm more than happy to see him play on our national team.

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  • ... I put in a nice typo in the first part it should be Shouldn'tbe on the national team...

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  • Guest - jesualdo

    I wish I can forget about the world cup. but its impossible to, considering RQ7's form in the first half of 2014. he was at his peak and with him firing blades of fury, we could have gone past the quarters atleast.

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  • Over all, this was a very poor performance from the Portuguese squad. It was a victory "Greece-style". I hope, that this is not the way, Santos wants to conduct the selecçao. Winning is ok of course - but defending very deep and hoping for a goal upfront is not Portuguese football-identity. I agree with most posts here, that it is a mistake to call such old guys like Bosingwa and Carvalho. Outstanding was the performance of Raphael Guerreiro. If he can go further this path, it would well worth to think about bringing him as a starter left back and putting Coentrao in the left midfield! Because Fabio could fill the gap that the Meireles from his good days left in the squad. The false 9 concept is - IMHO - the right system for Portugal. Because there are simply no stikers at the moment. Even when Eder would hit the goal - with the classic 9, the portuguese coaches are manic in attacking over the wings and crossing. A ridiculously simple game plan. More versatility is needed. With a false 9 this would be possible to achieve. But please not Danny. He is just a ghost in the national team. As a false nine, I would rather see one of the young guys. Rafa Silva has the right skill set for this position. And it's time to integrate Bernardo Silva in the Midfield. Forget Moutinho. At the moment, is not even a shadow of the great Moutinho. I'd like to see a midfield Bernardo Silva - Tiago - Fabio Coentrao. With William Carvalho on the bench as sub/alternative for Tiago.

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  • Guest - Chris/USA

    Just two quick things.

    1. Why isn't Fonte starting over always? Pepe and Fonte might be the best current national team CB doing in the world with their current form. Carvalho thanks for your service and you were a rock against Denmark, but it's time to move on. I'm done with Alves. He turns 33 in a week, he isn't even a 100% starter in the turkish league, and he's lazy/doesn't seem to care. Fonte is 2 years younger, fitter, works harder, and is the best player on the best defense in the PREMIER LEAGUE for a surprise Southhampton team that might finish top 4. Also, i'll never forgive always for sitting on his ass and not getting back to pull Dempsey offside for the USA's second goal at the World Cup. Starting against Serbia next March it should be Pepe and Fonte. If Ilori can stay healthy and develop our CB position is set for a while. Good news there.

    2. Santos' project for the next 18 months has to be develop and pick the right midfield that can compete with the other good teams. We have the talent. Look at the state of Europe right now. Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, etc.... THEY'RE ALL BEATABLE. Our defense is going to be rock solid and at 31 I still have faith Ronaldo will be the same player at euro 2016, even if it is the last major tournament he's still the same player before he declines. If we can just figure out the midfield we can win this thing.

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  • Guest - vsc

    very positive. winning last gasp only builds confidence and chemistry...esp when not playing well. i think its a lesson that the NT coach needs to be changes every 4yrs...otherwise things get stale and start to crumble...a couple players need to go though (they just do) or be given time away...moutinho is the first...he just doesnt cut it and he cant dribble and shoot...hence he never scores...you need a playmaker that can change a game by himself and moutinho to me has the capability but he is soft...in an intangible way...we lose the midfield when we play good teams and he is on the pitch...we need a cesc fabregas (obvious point but someone who re-creates how he plays even if not at the same level) i would love to see tiago and william play side by side with maybe a joao mario in the playmaker role. something tells me the difference would be monumental. center forward is always problem..danny is not good enough, and eder is so clumsy its hard to watch, . i mean his one shot on goal was such a shank his shot hit his own arm!!! you need a trigger man like benzema who pulls the trigger much faster than traditional players...(even if he misses a ton...a quick trigger man) only guys like this can link up with cr7 bc cr7 plays next level and someone needs to match his quick decision making. i dont know who fits this role but they should keep calling up players and experimenting new faces in this role till they find someone who sticks. going with the same guys yield the same results...true wonders in the game dont take years to settle into a position...it happens quickly...so you need to find someone who settles in quickly. i would be bold and try goncalo guedes there and see what he does...he cant be worse than the guys they have...defence, wings, gk and cr7 not much needs to be done imo...

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    I wasn't able to see the game so can't comment on details but i was very pleased to see the result. By all accounts we were second best for the most part, at least in terms of possession and attacking, but to grind out a last gasp win against the recent WC finalists and imo one of the 3 strongest squads in international football, is impressive, especially given the fact that our key player wasn't even involved in the second half.

    Santos has certainly galvanized the team after the shambles of the WC and the last 2 years of Bento's reign. Choosing various players, old and new, as opposed to the monotony of Bento's favorite usual suspects, is very refreshing. All of the various talented Portuguese players will feel like they're in with a shout to be called up for the NT and this is a good thing. As others have mentioned, Santos has sorted out what was becoming a serious Achilles heel in recent years: a suspect defense and inability to keep clean sheets in vital games. I'm not in favor of defensive football, on the contrary I'm a huge fan of attacking football, but I do realize the paramount importance of being solid at the back as a foundation. It's the only way to be successful really in this sport.

    We just have to sort out the attacking element now. Difficult to see what the solution is. I say it again, Lima is the best option we have available to play CF but Santos himself has already stated he won't be calling him up. Neither Postiga nor Eder are the answer I'm afraid, so there's work to be done by Santos on that front. As VSC stated in his post, I too wouldn't mind seeing someone like Bebe or Guedes given a chance in a friendly to show what they can do at CF. It's certainly worth a shot. All in all though the Selecao certainly seems to be moving in a good direction and it's good to see.

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  • Guest - Marques

    First off, hats off to Portugal for beating such a quality opponent. I'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss anyday.

    I'll start with the positives. Beto in goal was solid and to me is more sure handed than rui bobble hands patricio. Pepe was absolutely world class today. Covered up quote a few cheap Midfield giveaways. Guerreiro was phenomenal both offensively and defensively and frankly has more pace than antunes or tiago. The selfish Quaresma again steps up and delivers. I never understood why he doesn't start. He obviously has chemistry with Ronaldo, is our best crosser of the ball and isn't afraid to take on defenders which draws fouls which enables ronaldo to take free kicks which last time I checked was a good thing. Fonte was flawless.

    Unfortunately our Midfield got outclassed. They lost the ball with couldn't put together 2 or 3 passes without turNing the ball over.

    Tiago worst game yet. Looked slow, poor touches and gift wrapped a shit back pass to dimaria who would've punished 90% of defences. Thank god for Pepe putting on a defensive clinic.

    Moutinho no longer a starter and frankly joao mario and Adrien are in better form. He needs to regain form and if I were santos i would not call him up till he does.

    A. Gomes hustles and plays with heart and determination. He has star quality. He played okay today. One for the future.

    William needed to start. Tide began turning once his feet graced the pitch.

    Tiago gomes was unimpressive today and don't see a need to recall him at the moment.

    Eder,eder,eder. I want to like you. Your work rate is phenomenal. Your very athletic but the experiment is over and take postiga with you.

    Time to try other options. Portugal cannot be picky at the striker position. We have a a terrible shortage of goal scorers in any position. Orlando sa, bebe, nelson oliveira. In that order.

    Nani is so frustrating to watch. His mental lapses,bad passes,stupid fouls are wearing thin.
    we need bruma now. We need speed. Nani sloows the game down so much.

    Danny is a quality player but hasn't clicked thus far. Time to pivot to bench.

    Bruno alves should consider switching to striker role and take crosses all day. With 2 or 3 weeks of training I'm sure he'd be an improvement over eder. He really is phenomenal in the air unfortunately he's a defender with slow legs who doesn't know how to hold a line for an offside trap. Thank you for your service.

    Overall I like how solid our Backline looks especially without alves. Fonte is the logical choice and is a true leader at the back. . Midfield needs Adrien, Carvalho and gomes. Mario off the bench.

    Quaresma/ Bruma/Nani
    OrLando sa
    Ronaldo

    Have feeling if we use Nani as sub he will be much more effective.

    from Connecticut, USA
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