Cristiano Ronaldo made history with two late goals as Portugal snatched three points off Republic of Ireland with a 2-1 win on Wednesday.
Portugal left it late to secure a narrow 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland, with two late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo saving the day. The late victory helps them momentarily move top of Group A in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
It was largely a frustrating game for the Portuguese in Almancil as they missed an opportunity to score from an early penalty. It strengthened the resolve of the Irish team who defended brilliantly for the most part of the game, especially after a late first half goal from John Egan that put them in the ascendancy.
The goal allowed Ireland to defend deeper and they did an excellent job, repelling almost everything the hosts threw at home. Gavin Bazunu enjoyed a phenomenal evening, making brilliant saves one after another. Unfortunately, Ireland could not hold it until the very end as a sumptuous cross from Goncalo Guedes in the 89th minute found the head of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Manchester United man made no mistake in converting the opportunity, breaking Irish hearts. The goal saw him break Ali Daei’s record and became the goalscoring supremo of men’s international football with 110 goals. But there was still time for another headed goal, this time off a cross from Joao Mario, with Ronaldo doubling his tally to hand three points to Portugal.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will rank the Portuguese players in their narrow win over Ireland this midweek.
Rui Patricio: 6/10
Rui Patricio did not have much to do as Ireland only mustered two shots on target in the entire game. He could not have much to save the header from John Egan either, but it was otherwise a very quiet evening for the AS Roma goalkeeper. Had to remain alert, though, with the opposition often looking to make a second breakthrough.
Joao Cancelo: 7.5/10
Joao Cancelo had an excellent game and so often the X-factor in the Portuguese attack with his marauding runs forward. He notably created an excellent scoring opportunity for Diogo Jota in the first half. He was mostly solid in the defensive department as well.
🎯 Aleks' 92.7% accuracy
🚫 Cancelo clears 110+ touches
➡️ Bernardo: Long pass specialist
👇 All the individual statistics from #ManCity's stars in international action today:
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Pepe used his strength and experience to power through the Irish attackers most often than not. He was the pick of the Portuguese defender, making an impression not only with his defensive skills but also his forward passing that certainly turned a lot of heads. Still going strong at this age.
Ruben Dias: 6.5/10
Ruben Dias played the supporting role alongside Pepe. He was not as imposing as the former Real Madrid defender but did enough to prevent the opposition from scoring another.
Raphael Guerreiro: 6/10
Raphael Guerreiro did not have a great game, as he struggled to provide the creative flair going forward. It is understandable given the fact that he has only recently recovered from an injury layoff. The Borussia Dortmund man was subbed around the hour mark, in favour of Nuno Mendes.
Bernardo Silva: 7/10
Bernardo Silva was a joy to behold at times, with his silky footwork helping him drift past the Irish defenders with ease. He was indeed the spark in Portugal’s creative unit, but at the same time, he was quite frustrating to watch. He missed a glorious scoring opportunity in the second half and lacked any kind of end product.
Joao Palhinha: 6.5/10
Joao Palhinha played the role of the rough guy in the Portuguese midfield. The Sporting CP starlet did rather well when facing up the strong Irish midfield and his presence was vital in helping the team dominate the game for the most part.
Bruno Fernandes: 7/10
Bruno Fernandes had an excellent start to the game, winning the early penalty. He was the main creative spark in the Portugal attack, but what was particularly impressive was his leadership and willingness to win the ball back for his team. He was also quite selfless, spreading the ball around in the final third.
Rafa Silva: 4/10
Rafa Silva tried to showcase his pace early on in the game but he had a dismal evening up against the Irish defence. He was deservedly taken off at half-time by coach Fernando Santos.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8/10
Cristiano Ronaldo largely had a frustrating game against Ireland. He missed the early penalty and was often denied by the opposing goalkeeper. Ronaldo was defended very well by the centre-backs too, while the attacker also struggled to create any real chance by himself, other than a second-half cross for Silva.
However, Ronaldo’s fighting spirit and determination prevailed at the end as he converted crosses from Goncalo Guedes and Joao Mario to secure the three points for his country and make history. An absolute legend in his own right.
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Diogo Jota: 7/10
Diogo Jota was much more influential than Silva on the other flank. The Liverpool man made excellent runs behind the backline, but his end product just was not there. Needs to improve but he is certainly Portugal’s best attacking alongside Ronaldo.
Andre Silva: 5/10
Andre Silva was not able to do much after being introduced at half-time. Had a late acrobatic attempt that did not find its desired target and with the focus constantly on Ronaldo, the RB Leipzig star did not manage to impose himself well.
Joao Mario: 7/10
Joao Mario had a telling impact on the proceedings after coming on as a 62nd minute substitute for Fernandes. He offered a more traditional and direct approach, eventually producing the cross for Ronaldo’s second goal.
Nuno Mendes: 6/10
Nuno Mendes was brought in to offer more freshness and energy down at left-back. Nothing extraordinary from the youngster, who has recently joined Paris Saint-Germain.
Joao Moutinho: 6/10
Joao Moutinho replaced Palhinha to provide a more calming influence in the game Portuguese midfield during the final phase of the game.
Goncalo Guedes: N/A
A late replacement for Cancelo, who produced an excellent cross to find Ronaldo for the equaliser. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.