Portugal beat Azerbaijan 0-3 on Tuesday in their fifth qualifying match for the World Cup in Qatar and, despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, sanctioned for seeing the fifth yellow card, thrashed and became the virtual leader with 13 points, at the expense of what Serbia (10 points) will also do this Tuesday against Ireland.
The Portuguese were unrivaled in Baku, they dominated the game from start to finish and achieved an important victory with three days remaining to be first in the group.
Fernando Santos’ team came out as a clear dominator of the ball, with Bruno Fernandes and Cancelo to do damage on the right, a mission that was repeated on the left with Diogo Jota as the maximum exponent.
In fact, the first dangerous play came with the depth of the Liverpool attacker and former Atlético de Madrid player in the 8th minute.
Azerbaijan was clear that when defending it had to hold the Portuguese triangulations with a line of five, while the team of “las quinas” bet on a 4-3-3, with André Silva in the lead, replacing Cristiano Ronaldo, that fulfilled a cycle of 5 yellows.
Portugal was trying and João Cancelo was feasting on numerous interned on the left who could not find a finisher.
The Portuguese managed to knock down the local wall in the 25th, when, after a cross at the far post by Bruno Fernandes, the City player Bernardo Silva showed his best version after a spur shot that slipped into the goal defended by goalkeeper Magomedaliyev.
After the so much visitor, the squad of Giovanni de Biasi -ex from Levante, Alavés and Albania- fell apart and even had a clear in the 28th, after a play by Badalov that finished inside the Salahli area and that went near the post that Rui Patrício defended.
However, in 30, Portugal put land in the middle. New center for Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota (at the long post) serves for André Silva and he scores at 0-2 at will.
The team of “las quinas” could extend the advantage if in 34 André Silva had not missed a clear chance of scoring, after staying in the area alone and with the goalkeeper practically beaten. The ball went near the left post.
The Portuguese overconfidence cost him a scare on the brink of halftime, after a play on the left between Alasgarov and Ozobic, although the latter, who finished in the small area, threw the ball out.
At rest, the cameras focused on Bacu’s stands and it was striking that there were hardly any people with a mask and, even, many took advantage of the rest to have an aperitif in the seat itself.
After the break, two changes in Azerbaijan, Nuriev for Qarayev and Ghorbani for Khalilzada, while Fernando Santos sat Palinha to enter the middle of Wolverhampton Rúben Neves.
The script of the match did not change and, as soon as the second half began, Diogo Jota was able to make it 0-3, after a shot at pleasure inside the area that went over the bottom line.
It was not the night of Jota, who stands out for his excellent finish, since in 64 the goalkeeper was alone again in front of him and twice he missed the shot.
One of the most followed players in the last days of European football, Nuno Mendes, signed by PSG with a few hours left until the market closed, entered the field of play to occupy the left back to replace Raphael Guerreiro.
Finally, in 75, the Liverpool winger managed to score and seal the final 0-3.
– Data sheet:
0 – Azerbaijan: Magomedaliyev; Badalov, Hahgverdi, Salahli (Sadikhov, m. 78), Hüseynov, Makhmudov, Qarayev (Nuriev, m. 45), Khalilzada (Ghorbani, m. 45), Alasgarov, Emreli (Bayramov, m. 63) and Ozobic (Bayramov, m. 45) m. 63).
3 – Portugal: Rui Patrício; João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro (Nuno Mendes, d. 70), João Palhinha (Rúben Neves), João Moutinho (João Mário, d. 78), Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva (Otávio, d. 78), André Silva and Diogo Jota (Gonçalo Guedes, m. 78).
– Goals: 0-1, min. 25: Bernardo Silva; 0-2, min. 34: André Silva; 0-3, min. 75: Diogo Jota.
– Referee: Marco Guida (ITA), who admonished Palinha and Nuno Mendes for Portugal and Alasgarov, Ghorbani and Haghverdi for Azerbaijan
– Incidents: Match corresponding to Group A of the qualifying phase for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, played at the Baku Olympic Stadium with just over 19,000 spectators.