Portugal had to settle for a 0-0 draw against the Republic of Ireland in a crucial World Cup qualifier at Aviva Stadium.
Fernando Santo’s side did not manage to create many chances apart from a Cristiano Ronaldo’s headed attempt in the second half which went narrowly wide. On the other hand, the host deployed a counter-attacking system and did not have much joy in front of the Portuguese goal.
Late into the game Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano showed a soft red card to veteran defender Pepe. This incident gave enthusiasm to the home side, but they couldn’t break the Portugal defence.
Ireland 0-0 Portugal:
Following the results of this game, Santo’s side is currently sitting at the top of their group in goal difference with 17 points in 7 games. Serbia is sitting second in the table with the same points in as many games. Serbia and Portugal will meet in the final game of the group to determine who will directly qualify for the World Cup 2022. And who will have to play playoffs to secure a place in the Qatar world cup.
Portugal tried to keep the ball and play a slow possession-based football which helped Ireland to organize their defence and get back in shape. Santo’s side managed 12 attempts throughout the game and only three of those tested the Irish keeper Gavin Bazunu. On the other hand, Ireland also had 12 attempts in the game and only two of those were on target.
After the game, speaking on the club’s website, Portugal manager Fernando Santo stated that it was a positive result for them. A win or a draw would have been the same for their standing. Santo also said that he is confident that his side will qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022. He said:
“An exhibition where we didn’t get to catch as we thought we were going to get. A draw or a 5-0 win was the same thing, but of course, I would rather win. It’s a positive result. Portugal knows that, at this moment, the Serbia team has to play in our stadium to win the game. They will play in a different way. I’m convinced we’re going to be at the Worlds.”
The upcoming fixtures for both teams:
Ireland will travel to Luxembourg for the final group game for the battle of third-placed finish. Portugal will host Serbia on Sunday to secure a place for next year’s World Cup.