Portugal power past Malta PDF Print E-mail

Portugal national football teamMalta 0-4 Portugal

In their opener for qualification for the World Cup in 2010, Portugal lived up to expectations as the team fired four goals past lowly Malta without response.

A Said own goal, plus second-half markers by Hugo Almeida, Simao Sabrosa and Nani saw the Seleccao get their World Cup qualifying campaign off to the perfect start as they now prepare to host Denmark at the Alvalade on Wednesday.


A balmy night in Medina as Carlos Queiroz made his official debut as Portugal’s national team head coach, which also marked the return of Maniche to the team after being left out by former boss Luiz Felipe Scolari in the summer’s European championships.

The climate, mixed with the poorly manicured field, made it initially difficult for the Portuguese to find a rhythm. Real Madrid’s Pepe almost opened the scoring in the 5th minute, but the central defender’s effort just cleared the crossbar. Shortly afterwards, the power went out in the stadium and a ten-minute delay ensued before play was reconvened.

Portugal enjoyed the majority of possession early on, but were not as sharp in the final third of the field and wasted a lot of good build-up play which could have led to early goals. Eventually, the Portuguese did manage to make one of their attacks count in the 24th minute as they received a little help from their hosts.

Nani-Bosingwa combination

Nani and Bosingwa combined for a lovely give and go. As the Chelsea full-back gained entry into the Malta box, he had a look up and sent a devilish pass along the ground towards the waiting Hugo Almeida. Malta defender Said tried his best to cut off the pass, but ended up pushing the ball into his own net to give the Portuguese the lead.

Simao had a glorious opportunity ten minutes later to double Portugal’s advantage, but lost his bearings and ended up wasting the opportunity. In the 37th minute, Nani released a screamer, but Malta’s Haber proved to be up to the task and denied the Manchester United forward what would have been a spectacular goal.

With a goal under their belt, Portugal started the second-half confidently and imposed their game on their Group 1 rivals. Their persistence paid off in the 61st minute as Hugo Almeida scored his third goal for the national side as he picked up a loose rebound to knock the ball past Haber.

Nani threatened the Malta goal again two minutes later, but Haber managed to get a piece off the ball and re-direct the effort just shy off the left post. The wheels started to fall off for the hosts as Portugal got a third goal in the 71st minute when Simao picked up a lazy rebound from a Nani blast to make it 3-0 for the visitors.

Lethal Deco

The rout was completed in the 78th minute as Nani finally got a goal when he was sent in all alone by a lethal Deco throughball that carved open the Malta defence, and made no mistake to get the ball past Haber and end the night’s scoring. Joao Moutinho had a chance to make it five goals, but the Sporting captain ran out of real estate on the right side and struck his effort into the side netting.

A good start for Portugal as they earned a convincing win and try to make it to their third straight World Cup. The opposition will be stiffer on Wednesday as the ever tricky Denmark pay a visit to the Estadio Jose Alvalade. Portugal can count on great home support as the Portuguese have yet to lose a match at Sporting’s ground.

(by Marco Pereira)


Malta:
Haber, Briffa, Said, Dimech, Bajada, Dimech, Bajada, Sammut, Agius (Fenech, 81), Pace, Woods (Mallia, 59), Mifsud, Scerri (Barbara, 70)

Portugal:
Quim, Bosingwa, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Antunes, Raul Meireles, Carlos Martins (Maniche, 63), Deco, Nani, Simao Sabrosa (Joao Moutinho, 75), Hugo Almeida (Nuno Gomes, 67)

Goals:
[0-1] Said (o.g.), 24
[0-2] Hugo Almeida, 61
[0-3] Simao Sabrosa, 71
[0-4] Nani, 78

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