Portugal 2-2 Mexico

Just when it looked as if Portugal might actually secure victory despite a predominantly listless display, Mexico snatched a late draw courtesy of a Hector Moreno header in stoppage time.

Cédric had given Portugal the lead with less than five minutes to play with his first ever goal for Portugal to build upon Quaresma's first half goal when set up by Ronaldo. But it wasn't enough as the defence eventually succumbed to Mexico's relentless pursuit of the game.

In keeping with his policy of squad rotation, Santos made several key changes to the side that beat Latvia 3-0 in World Cup qualifying nine days prior. Nani regained his place alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at the expense of André Silva, who had scored seven goals in his first eight caps for Portugal. Pepe also got the nod despite having not played in over 2 months due to injury while Quaresma started in a midfield quartet that again had no room for Bernardo Silva.

Mexico began well in possession while Portugal eased into a defensive posture. Nani surrendered an early free kick in a dangerous position on the right, but Guardado's effort struck the wall and went out for a goal kick. But through the first quarter hour Mexico threatened very little despite forcing Portugal to play the role of spectator.

Quaresma sent Portugal's first shot of the match well wide of Ochoa's goal, and Mexico resumed their possession dominance as the Seleção struggled to connect even the simplest of passes. But despite their poor start to the match, Portugal thought they had the opening goal in the 21st minute. A poor clearance following a Ronaldo free kick found its way back to Portugal's captain, who dispatched a thunderous effort on the half volley that required both the keeper and crossbar to keep out. The rebound was crossed back into the box and turned into the net by Pepe only to be ruled out for offside following video review.

Portugal were playing with greater confidence now and Cédric got on the end of a Quaresma throughball down the right that Ochoa did well to smother. At the other end, Layun placed a free kick wide as Mexico labored to create meaningful opportunities. A William cross towards Nani had to be tipped over by Ochoa after being inadvertently directed towards goal by a Mexican defender.

Ronaldo rights the ship

But then Portugal's captain stepped up and delivered even as the team around him struggled for a foothold in the match. Salcedo badly misjudged a cross towards Ronaldo on the left wing allowing him to bear down on goal. Just when it looked like he had lost control, Ronaldo paused and threaded a wonderful ball to an unmarked Quaresma in the right side of the penalty area. The Besiktas winger took a quintessentially cheeky touch inside to dummy Ochoa then slipped the ball into the empty net to give Portugal the lead in the 35th minute.

Portugal nearly had two minutes later after a brilliant exchange of play between Nani, Ronaldo and Quaresma. Nani's place was touched into the path of Ronaldo with the quality of backheel control that only Ronaldo can consistently perform outside the training ground, and Quaresma eventually placed his shot just the wrong side of the post.

Instead it was Mexico who equalized after a rather out of character defensive error by Raphael Guerreiro. The fullback completely whiffed on his attempt to clear a simple cross into the box allowing Vela to pass the ball directly onto the head of Chicharito and Mexico's all-time leading goalscorer made no mistake.

Minutes later Guerreiro was beaten again down the left by Vela and Portugal were lucky to see Chicharito send his shot well over the bar as the teams would go into the halftime interval with the score deadlocked at 1-1.

Mexico resumed their active pass and press routine as the second half began, and Portugal continued looking short on answers. Santos made a double change in the 58th minute withdrawing Nani for Gelson and Moutinho for Adrien Silva.

Both sides struggled to create chances although Quaresma just overhit a trivela cross for Ronaldo to head towards goal. Ronaldo won a free kick in the 72nd minute on the right but Quaresma's poor delivery about summed up Portugal's afternoon. Mexico threw on veteran striker Oribe Peralta to add more attacking momentum, but as their press faded, Portugal began to see a little more of the ball. 

Portugal substitutions make their mark

Quaresma struck a half volley straight at Ochoa in the 81st minute after good work by Ronaldo and André Gomes. But it would be his last action of the match as he was substituted for André Silva. The FC Porto striker wasted little time in getting involved drawing a great save from Ochoa with a header towards the far post. 

Minutes later, fellow substitute Gelson was released down the right by Ronaldo and the Sporting winger's pace allowed him to get in a cross that Cédric finished beyond Ochoa courtesy of a healthy deflection to give Portugal a crucial lead in the 85th minute. Mexico should have been level not more than a minute later but Chicharito fluffed his lines 8 yards from goal.

The excitement of the final quarter hour continued when Gelson very nearly increased the lead at the other end after being teed up by André Silva following a fast counter.  But Mexico found their equalizer in stoppage time when Moreno turned in Jonathan dos Santos' corner kick.

It was a fair result in the end as Mexico simply did not take advantage of their superior possession. Portugal will feel as if they really should have won despite a disjointed performance in which Mexico's withering press stifled them for at least the first hour of the match. 

Fernando Santos' starting midfield simply could not match the tempo of their Mexican counterparts but it must be said his choice of substitutions very nearly secured victory. André Gomes, who was poor in the first half, caused far more havoc in the second with direct running and several decent crosses from the left side of midfield. Even so, the mystery of Bernardo Silva's absence continues, and Portugal will certainly have to demonstrate more cohesion in midfield and more intelligent defending to survive in this tournament.

Portugal next face hosts Russia in Moscow on Wednesday needing to win to have a more realistic chance of progressing from Group A.


by Nathan Motz


Mexico: Ochoa, Salcedo (Araujo, 67'), Reyes, J. dos Santos, Layun, Jimenez (Peralta, 79'), Vela (G. dos Santos, 58'), Hernandez, Moreno, Herrera, Guardado

Portugal: Rui Patrício, Cedric Soares, Fonte, Pepe, Guerreiro, William, Quaresma (Silva, 82'), Moutinho, (Adrien, 58'), André Gomes, Nani (Gelson, 58’), Ronaldo



[1-0] Quaresma, 35’

[1-1] Hernandez, 42'

[2-1] Cédric, 86'

[2-2] Moreno, 90 + 1'


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  • Guest - jon/usa

    At the end of the day, the 2-2 result was a fair reflection of what took place on the pitch. Mexico had the better of possession, but they really struggled to create quality chances from open play, and while Portugal looked extremely lethargic, they still managed to look threatening on the counter.

    As others have already mentioned, Santos was more than happy to see us concede possession to Mexico. Portugal were essentially instructed to sit back and look to heat a very, very shaky Mexican defense on the counter. And while it's extremely frustrating to see us use such reactive and pragmatic tactics against such a deeply flawed and beatable opponent (yes Mexico has a handful of quality players in attacking areas, but they are by no means an elite side), I would argue that they were largely effective. Fernando Santos should receive a great deal of criticism for his tactics and questionable player selection, but you definitely can't blame him for the two goals we conceded. Guerreiro was 100% at fault for Mexico's first goal and Jose Fonte was 100% at fault for Mexico's late equalizer -- these were the result of extremely unnecessary individual errors rather than any sort of collective or structural defensive problems.

    That being said, I have no doubt that we would have definitely scored at least 3 or 4 goals if Santos had opted for a more proactive, attack-minded approach. This Mexican side looked extremely vulnerable every single time we attacked them, and had we had taken the front foot and put them pressure, we certainly would ripped their defense apart. I would understand Santos' ultra-conservative tactics if we didn't have a squad full of talented attacking players, but fortunately that isn't the case. There is no reason for a team that has the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva, Bernardo, Gelson, Quaresma, etc to play such cautious, defense-minded football.

    Think of it this way: Fernando Santos was tasked with beating a Fiat with a Ferrari, but rather than use his superior vehicle to win the race comfortably, he was too afraid to go over 60 mph. I understand that the whole slow and steady approach got us our first every international trophy last summer, but I fear that if we are to truly reach the potential of this exciting new generation, we are going to need a coach who has the balls to play proactive, attack-minded football. How on earth do you leave Bernardo Silva -- undoubtedly the most talented player Portugal has produced since Cristiano -- on the bench for the entire 90 minutes?

    There is no reason why we shouldn't be winning all three of our group games by 2 or 3 goals, but knowing Santos, we'll probably end up drawing 1-1 with Russia and then beating NZ 2-0. We'll then probably go on to defeat either Chile or Germany in penalties before getting an extra time winner in the final. At the end of the day, the ends justify the means, but I just can't help but frustrated by his ultra-defensive philosophy. It is not impossible to play attractive, free-flowing football without sacrificing defensive solidity -- apparently it seems as though Fernando Santos lacks the tactical acumen to figure that out.

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  • Guest - James

    It is funny that defensively as individual's almost everyone was poor, however has a team Portugal didn't give up many chances to a team that dominated possession. Mexico looked like Portugal when they have the lions share of possession: lots of sideways and backwards passing with little attacking substance. All they needed was a Ronaldo to rescue them. Although if Javier had his shooting boots on Mexico could of easily snatched the win.

    I don't blame the backline entirely for their awful performance. If your midfielders can't control the center of the park there is going to be undue pressure on your defense. There were plenty of loose passes by the backline, especially Fonte, but it is extremely difficult to make a pass when your entire team is standing still. The lack of movement off the ball made the Mexican pressure look that much more effective. Heck, the middle was so ineffective that even Quaresma was coming deep into the middle to find the ball. Now if that isn't a key indicator for lack of service I don't know what is. This isn't a knock on him. I actually loved his performance yesterday. He seemed to play with true desire and passion.

    The game Wednesday will be a great assessment of Santos's ability to adjust line-ups. In my opinion, it will put to rest this whole idea about him being like Bento and falling in love with a select few experienced players. I have a feeling he is going to start 4-5 different players and don't be surprised if Alves comes in for Fonte. I think this tournament is huge for Pepe and his next contract even with all the PSG talk.

    Lastly, with every performance Portugal is showing they had a Euro tournament similar to Greece. I really don't think any team or the media for that matter should respect them as elite. There is no way teams/media should look at Portugal with the same pedigree as Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. All I ever hear is potential, potential, potential, and that Santos isn't given the young guys a chance, aside from Bernardo, who I believe should have a spot there youth is still in development. They can't even take care of business at the Under 20 level, and that Under 21 performance was awful. It is possible that there is a disconnect between how good Portugal actually is and their fan's perception of how good they are.

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  • Guest - Joao

    At least Santos was critical of the midfield and how useless it was. That gives me some hope for changes for the next match. I expect the Subs to start
    Cedric, Fonte, Pepe, Guerreiro
    Gelson, Adrien, William, Gomes
    Silva, Ronaldo

    I don't think we've won a game against Russia In Russia which is why I won't be surprise if we tie this too.
    I agree wth the previous poster about the progression of the team.
    We tie Russia
    Beat New Zealand by a few goals
    Beat the semi finalists on penalties
    And win the final in extra time by an unexpected player scoring

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  • Guest - Jeff

    Wow the amount of Pessimism being thrown out on this board is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!! I love being Portuguese but one things I have to admit, we are so FICKLE as a people. We turn on one another and our National Team at any wiff of wind that smells bad in our direction. We automatically critisize and blame, blame, blame. I will extend an olive branch, we didn't play our best game "No Doubt", Raphael Guerreiro definitely played his worst game in a Seleccao jersey up till this date. I agree that we should be dictating more of the game and ball possession in a more attacking mode. Bernardo Silva should start as an Ala "Rui Costa". But in saying all of these things, they're is no need for the anger being thrown out of some of your mouths. It's one game, let's see how they perform on Wednesday and perhaps we will have a better understanding to actually judge. Like support them win or lose and stop acting like whiny school children. I am all for debating sports, but some people take it too far, and perhaps things are happening in training and we don't know why the coaches choose what they choose. So nobody quit their Day Jobs, i'm pretty sure none of us will ever be the coach of PORTUGAL LOL FORCA PORTUGAL............................. Vamos

    from Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Guest - James

    Careful Jeff with that elitist attitude you are going to get ripped by those same pessimists you are referring to. I often have this conversation with my Portuguese father there is passion and then there is realize that something trivial like Portuguese soccer shouldn't dictate your mood. You can be objective without letting the performance of mostly multi-millionare dollar players eat at you, especially when you have no idea about all the variables that are at play. For example, maybe Bernardo isn't playing because he told Ronaldo that his sculpture was very closer to his actual likeness. I mean that statement right their would kill chemistry and force Santos to bench Silva.

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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars


    1. The Selecao would officially be renamed the "overpaid-slow-bums!"

    2. After every game the Selecao would go to tribal council (Survivor style) where they would vote to kick out the weakest member. Eder, Joao Mario, Ronaldo, Nani, Patricio, Cedric, Adrien Silva, Andre Gomes, Moutinho, Fonte, Alves, Renato Sanches, Quaresma would all be booted at one point or another. The team would currently consist of 2nd division Portuguese players who cant afford the plane fare to get to Russia so they had to take a bus.

    3. Unless you score multiple goals per game you don’t play next game. That goes for the goalies as well!!

    4. We would be hitting 20+ coaching changes over the past 5 years by now. Including Sean Desmond and Nelly Furtado. If armchair posters can do it then so can quasi-celebrities.

    5. The Portugoal haters would have on their reversible jerseys so when Portugal lose or tie or even WIN (like the Latvia game), they can still flip the jersey around for one of the “powerhouses” countries like Germany, Italy or Brasil. Who apparently never lose or tie…

    6. Nani would be driving a bus in NYC probably addicted to painkillers.

    7. Ronaldo would quit football (because apparently he can’t run anymore) and become the new spokesperson for Proactiv!

    8. Rui Patricio would shoot commercials for Head and Shoulders shampoo.

    9. Eliseu would play every game and set the bar so low FIFA would actually bend the rules so Portugal can field 2 LB’s at the same time and still allow goals on the left side.

    10. Any positive comments would immediately be shouted down (watch out Jeff and James, its coming!!!) and have heavy Sagres bottles hurtled at their heads while being called all manner of nasty names.

    Honestly, how is it even possible for Portugal fans to be getting worse? Go get some pasteis de nata and feel better. FORCA PORTUGAL!!!!

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • I will say this; I appreciate how passionate Portugal fans are.

    However, I also have to say; I don't personally care too much about the Confederations Cup. If they drop out but that somehow leads to learning strategies that catapult us to winning the World Cup, I will take that without hesitation.

    It's all about perspective. Portugal fans were desperate for gold for eons, we finally break through the glass ceiling, and suddenly every performance afterwards is putrid. Okay, so it wasn't a great result. But it was the first game. And as I said, the Confederations Cup is not a big deal.

    Hopefully this is just an opportunity to build chemistry between the team.

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  • I'm not sure what Fernando Santos was trying to do with that lineup. I have a difficult time accepting a team full of non in-form players starting for Portugal. I feel Santos has fallen into that old thinking of managers from the past in keeping loyal to certain athletes. Andre Gomes had a horrible year and heavily criticized with Barca not to mention he lost his starting spot. Quite frankly I always felt he is overrated on the ball and definitely lacks any pace. Another stalled star is Nani. Not the greatest year with Valencia so he needs to step up and prove his worth if he wants to continue to start for the national team. Non domestic starters are painful to watch for Portugal especially when they are in poor form. I'm sorry but Gomes, Moutinho, Nani and especially Fonte did not get the job done. Bruno Alves would have been a better choice especially reflecting back on the goal that tied the game. Watching Fonte kick balls into empty space or out for a throw in left me feeling very frustrated. This is because we know they can hold possession a lot better than displayed. The only non starter I have faith in is Pepe. That guy is a beast and you know he bleeds Portugal red. This is a real chance to see some of our young talent display their skill.

    Please start Gelson, Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva. Let these guys get some serious experience so Portugal can fulfill it's objective of not only getting to the World Cup but contending for the World Cup. I state this because I truly believe the Portuguese have a good squad. A lot has got to improve before the game against Russia. Lets hope the next starting 11 come through.

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  • Guest - Nelson

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Admittedly I haven't read half the posts here but my general take is that Mexico is not being given enough credit... they showed great energy and tenacity for most of the game and are equally responsible for Portugal's poor showing as some of the players that let us down.
    Guerreiro looked particularly uncomfortable and seemed to lack an answer to Mexico's tenacity at the worst possible times.

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  • Guest - Larry RI USA

    Awful game, not the best performance by Portugal. I was surprised that Andre Silva didnt start, the kid is a beast!. Mourtinho looked too slow and lacked pace. Glad to see Quaresma play well, good attacking and passes. His goal was sweet too. Man of the match def. goes to William Carvaulho, dude is solid as a DM. This could be his pay out tournament if he keeps playing like he did this game. Pepe looked lost, too much time off to play in such a big tourney. The tactics were OK, but would like Silva to start. Im confident we can advance out of this group, if we don't, that may be trouble for Santos and co. '

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