Portugal overhaul Switzerland for golden ticket
Portugal secured World Cup qualification at Switzerland’s expense with a rousing 2-0 win in Lisbon.
Switzerland headed into the final round of matches in Group B boasting a 100 per cent record but must now tackle a play-off after Fernando Santos’ European champions matched the scoreline they found themselves on the receiving end of in Basle last September.
Cheered on by a raucous crowd knowing nothing other than a win would do at Estadio da Luz, Portugal were kept in check by a composed and disciplined Swiss showing until Johan Djourou put into his own goal in the 41st minute.
Pop superstar Madonna was among the home supporters looking for Cristiano Ronaldo to inspire a famous victory but it was playmaker Bernardo Silva who truly got Portugal into the groove.
That the Manchester City playmaker has not been an automatic choice at club level since switching to the Premier League was scarcely evident as he performed at the heart of Portugal’s brightest moments, including Andre Silva’s qualification-sealing second.
Portugal seemed intent on settling the issue during the opening exchanges of the second half and Djourou hurled himself in the way of a rasping Ronaldo drive from 25 yards.
Bernardo Silva scampered in from the left to give the Real Madrid hero a clearer opening in the 55th minute but technique uncharacteristically deserted him and he lifted a left-footed effort harmlessly over.
It mattered little as Andre Silva smuggled home from close range two minutes later, namesake Bernardo again to the fore, cleverly exchanging passes with Joao Mario to befuddle the Switzerland backline and impishly leaving a goal and qualification on a plate.
Seldom seen as an attacking force during the opening hour, Switzerland sprung forward in a belated attempt to salvage a task that had slipped abruptly from their grasp.
Xherdan Shaqiri drove at a retreating Portugal backline and his thudding shot was almost touched in by an alert Seferovic in the 67th minute.
It was not to be for Vladimir Petkovic’s men, who will at least take their previously unblemished run into the play-offs as seeds.
For Ronaldo, who botched a late one-on-one opportunity, it means one more guaranteed shot at football’s greatest prize – a position a certain Argentinian rival would dearly love to have secured.