Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Andre Silva helped the European Champions cruise to an easy victory against a helpless Hungary at the Estadio da Luz
The last time Fernando Santos’ men faced Hungary was in the European Championships in France last year, in their final Group F match. That was a 6-goal thriller with both side’s getting 3 goals a piece. It was far less thrilling this time around and the Hungarians were absolutely outclassed in every area of the pitch.
Ronaldo got a brace in that tie which helped Portugal qualify to the knockout rounds and he repeated the feat against Bernd Storck’s men once again. However, the Portuguese defence were at their very best on the night and ensured that goalkeeper Rui Patricio would be untroubled.
We take a look at some the major talking points and things we learnt from Portugal’s 3-0 victory over Hungary in their UEFA Group B World Cup qualifying match.
Ronaldo’s New Milestone
The Portuguese captain reached yet another milestone with his 2 goals. After scoring his 69th and 70th goal for Portugal in what was his 136th appearance, the Real Madrid legend is now the fourth highest European International goalscorer.
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 53 career free-kicks:
Portugal 🇵🇹: 7 ⚽️
Man United: 14 ⚽️
Real Madrid: 32 ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/QxKrb1cAbo
— CR7 Fans | Ronaldo (@Cr7Prince4ever) March 27, 2017
Only Miroslav Klose with 71 goals for Germany and Hungarian duo Sandor Kocsis with 75 and Ferenc Puskas with 84 goals are ahead of him. His stunning 30-yard freekick was also his 9th goal in qualifying, making him the the top scorer in the qualifying stage of the World Cup.
The 32-year-old was at his very best on the night and marked his contribution by playing an important role in the first goal and scoring the next two. Portugal’s only defeat in qualifying came against Switzerland, a match where Ronaldo could not participate due to injury, which shows how much they depend on him.
Raphael, Pepe and Cedric Untroubled
Both of Portugal’s full-backs had good games. Raphael Guerreiro and Cedric Soares were perhaps only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo and David Silva as the Seleção’s best players. Besides keeping Hungary’s wingers and fullbacks quiet for the entire match, they also contributed going forward.
The 23-year-old Guerriero linked up wonderfully on the left with Joao Mario for most of the the game and even set up the first goal. Ronaldo spotted his run up the left from the center and spread the ball out wide to him and the Borussia Dortmund fullback sent in low, pinpoint cross across the Hungary defence to an unmarked Andre Silva at the far post, who made no mistake from 5 yards out.
Southampton fullback Cedric Soares wasn’t able to feature in Portugal’s last 3 World Cup qualifying matches due to a foot injury and needless to say, his return was a successful one. Hungary’s Mihaly Korhut and Ádám Gyurcsó never really stood a chance against him.
The rumoured Barcelona and Manchester City target’s defensive solidity allowed Ricardo Quaresma to express himself better upfront and Soares’ constant bombarding down the right flank kept Hungary’s wingbacks occupied throughout the game and didn’t allow them to attack too much.
Pepe, alongside Fonte put in a typically assured performance in the middle of defence. The Real Madrid veteran played a key role in Portugal’s second, as he sent out a wonderful pass from his own half to Andre Silva, who laid it off for Ronaldo to smash it into the bottom corner.
The 34-year-old European Champion basically had Hungary striker Adam Szalai in his back pocket and whatever little the visitors offered going forward was nipped in the bud before it could pose a problem.
Silva’s Continues Stunning Form
Silva is currently enjoying a brilliant domestic campaign with FC Porto, where he has registered 20 goals and 7 assists in 37 appearances this season. He has been in great form for his country as well, having now accumulated 5 goals and 2 assists in 6 games for Portugal.
— FCPGlobal (@FCP_Tube) March 25, 2017
He opened the scoring for his side in the 32nd minute, after getting on the end of a low Raphael Guerreiro cross to finish from close range. 4 minutes later, he would lay the ball off brilliantly for Ronaldo with the deftest of backheel touches, for the 32-year-old to double Portugal’s lead.
He seemed extremely comfortable leading the line for the Seleção alongside Cristiano Ronaldo as a part of Fernando Santos’ 2-man strike force and didn’t seem fazed by the occasion at all. Silva is the best out and out striker that they have and he can only get better from here.
Ronaldo and Andre Silva at Real Madrid for next season. pic.twitter.com/5ywxqh3gcL
— CR7Minutes (@CR7Minutes) March 25, 2017
Earlier this month it was rumoured that Cristiano Ronaldo had suggested that Real Madrid sign the 21-year-old sensation as a replacement for Karim Benzema. If those reports are true, this performance showed exactly why Silva is held in such high regard by his National Team Captain.
The Race For Group B
As things stand, Portugal are placed second in Group B with 12 points to their name. Their only loss over the course of the qualifying matches came against Switzerland, who after managing a narrow 1-0 victory over Latvia, ensure that they remained at the top of their group with 15 points.
Besides the Swiss and Hungary, their Group consists of Macedonia, Latvia, Andorra and the Faroe Islands. All teams that shouldn’t pose any sort of significant threat to their qualification hopes. Portugal have a far greater goal difference than that of Swiss and that may work in their favour.
Their final Group B qualification game is scheduled to be held against Switzerland on the 10th of October and it seems as the race for automatic qualification will do down to the wire.