Portugal handed New Zealand a four-goals-to-nothing defeat in their last group game in this year’s FIFA Confederation Cup played in Saint Petersburg,Russia. It was the heaviest defeat the Kiwis suffered in their three losses in the group stage matches.
Portugal, with today’s comprehensive win, advanced into the semi-final stage of this years competition.
The Kiwis came into the match with nothing to play for but pride – they had been eliminated from the competition by virtue of their two previous losses to Mexico and Russia. The host country was also got eliminated from the competition when they lost to Mexico at Kazan.
It took the Seleccao side, parading Cristiano Ronaldo in their attack, some time to settle into the game.
In the early minutes of the game, the Kiwi came strongly into the game playing a high press and defending stoutly against their highly rated opponent. Chris Wood created a scoring chance inside the Portuguese penalty box, but his final shot was too weak to trouble Rui Patricio.
Mid-way into the half, Portugal took control of the game and started to attack their opponent with increasing ferocity.
Ricardo Quaresma, who appeared to have defied Father time with high energy level and inventiveness, troubled the Kiwis’s defense with his dribbling runs from the left flank.He executed crosses from that flank that were specifically directed to Ronaldo, but the Real Madrid front man was unable to score with two powerful headers – one was saved by Stefan Marinovic and the second was deflected out of play by the crossbar.
Portugal continued to attacked their opponent, winning six corner kicks within thirty minutes of the first half.On the thirty third minute, New Zealander’s stout defensive structure finally caved in when Danilo Pereira was pulled down inside their penalty, as his raced into the penalty box to head a cross from the flank into the net.The resultant penalty was scored by the Cristiano Ronaldo.
Patricio made a brilliant save from Chris Wood’s oblique shot inside his own penalty box.
Quaresma was on call again to make a significant contribution in the build up to Portugal’s second goal.He picks a pass at the left flank, flicks the ball over the head of a New Zealand defender to Eliseu Pereira who makes a run into the opponent’s penalty box; the Benfica’s left full back races with the ball to the byline and sends a backward pass to onrushing Bernard Silver who smashes the ball into the net and picks an injury in the process.
The second half resumed and Portugal continued with the same energy level while their opponent came into the game with the intention of scoring a goal of their own.
Marinovic was on hand to deny the Selecca more goals when he made breathtaking saves to stop Ronaldo and Andre Silva from adding their names to the scorer sheet.But for the countless saves from the Kiwis keeper, the scoreline would have been more embarrasing.
Coach Fernando Santos withdrew Ronaldo and introduced Luis Nani, and the former Manchester United’s winger drew a save from the brilliant Marninovic just few minutes after his introduction .
In the final thirty minutes of the game, Portugal was in clear ascendancy, as their strikers ran rings around the opponent’s defenders.
Quaresma had a hand or rather gave the assist for Portugal’s third goal. He charges at the kiwi’s left full back Thomas Doyle, dispossesses him of the ball and feeds the ball to Andrea Silva, who races with the ball to the Kiwi’s penalty box, drills the ball to the right hand side evading the opponent’s defenders in the process; Silva then plays a curling shot beyond the hands of onrushing Marinovic.
Boxall almost scored for the Kiwis when Patricio spilled a cross in his direction inside the six yard box, but SuperSport United’s defender’s final shot was pushed out of danger by Patricio.
Nani scored Portugal’s final goal of the match, a goal that showed how comfortable he is at using both feet to shoot.He receives a pass in an advance position in the opponent’s half, and he races towards the penalty box, executes few step-overs and shoots the ball beyond the wrongly positioned Marionovic into the net.
With this victory Portugal topped their group, claiming the maximum nine points. They will now have to wait of the results of the remaining matches in the other group to know their semi-final opponent.