Portugal v Sweden –
Final Score/Result: Portugal 1-0 Sweden
Man Of The Match: Joao Moutinho
The match was built up between two of the biggest star of World football – Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Sadly though, only one would be able to participate in the biggest footballing event next year – the World Cup in Brazil. But might we forget, this contest was also between 20 other players in both these sides. Portugal have taken a slender lead at home in the first leg, but Paulo Bento will know that his side should have scored more goals in this game.
It was a fairly insipid first half as chances came few and far between. Portugal’s best chance in that half fell to Moutinho, who was set through by a lovely pass from Meireles. But the 27-year-old dragged his shot wide of goal from a tight angle. Sweden’s only meaningful chance came from a shot by Sebastian Larsson, after he was set up by a dummy from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But Larsson’s shot was saved by Patricio. Both Zlatan and Ronaldo didn’t have too much influence on the game in the first half.
Sweden were fairly disappointing in attack as Erik Hamren’s side failed to get their passing game together. Zlatan wasn’t provided with any service in the game and the PSG striker was largely anonymous. But Ronaldo did leave his mark in the game as the Real Madrid star scored the winner in the 82nd minute of the game. Veloso’s cross from the left was met with a diving header by Ronaldo as he provided the lead for the home side. Just minutes later, Ronaldo had a golden opportunity to double the lead, but his header struck the woodwork. Sweden will be disappointed with this performance as they managed have only two shots on target in the game. They will have to produce a much improved performance in the second leg to harbour any hopes of qualifying.
Paulo Bento believes that the tie is still in balance and insists that his side will not take a defensive approach to defend the lead in the second leg. But he did express his delight at the getting the victory and praised his players for their positive attitude in the game.
“This is a play-off with two teams (that are) very balanced. We knew it was going to be balanced.
“Now the team is preparing to win in Sweden. We will not go there to defend the result.
“We had a great chance early in the game. Then Sweden responded with a cross, (which was) virtually their only chance in 90 minutes.
“Overall, in the second half we were much, much better. We were dominating the whole game, something most evident in the second half.
“We created more scoring opportunities to achieve a (better) result.
“The players are to be congratulated for what they did, and for the attitude demonstrated.” – The Portugal manager said.
Portugal v Sweden – Statistics
Joao Moutinho produced a wonderful performance at the center of the park for Portugal in this game. The Monaco midfielder came close to providing an early lead to the home side, but failed to convert from a tight angle. He made the most number of passes in the match and controlled the midfield along with Meireles. Moutinho made 4 key passes and attempted 20 crosses in the game. His dynamics and energy provided the spark for Portugal in the final third.