Portugal gain point in Sweden PDF Print E-mail

Sweden versus PortugalSweden 0-0 Portugal

Portugal earned what could prove a precious point in their quest for World Cup qualification with a goalless draw in Sweden tonight. Carlos Queiroz’s team were put under heavy pressure in the first half but looked the more composed side after the break in a tightly fought match of few chances.

Joao Moutinho and Bruno Alves were the stand-out players for the Seleccao, who will look to catch Denmark in top spot in Group 1 when they host Albania in Braga on Wednesday.

Both teams were missing several regulars, with Ricardo Carvalho, Deco, Simao and Maniche all out injured for Portugal. Carlos Queiroz kept faith with his preferred striker, Hugo Almeida, with Manchester United wingers Ronaldo and Nani charged with supplying ammunition to the big Werder Bremen front man.

Aerial threat

But it was the hosts who started much the stronger. Roared on by a capacity crowd at the Rasunda Stadium on the outskirts of the capital Stockholm, the Swedes’ strength in the air gave Portugal’s rearguard plenty of problems in an uncomfortable first half.

Elmander, who had already forced Quim into a sharp save early on, came close to giving the home team the lead on 25 minutes when he was first to a dangerous cross and sent his header a whisker over the bar.

The Bolton striker was proving more of a danger than star man Ibrahimovic. Twice more in the first half he lost his marker, only to volley over when well placed and then head narrowly wide.

Portugal’s best efforts in the first half came in a one-minute period on the half hour mark. A swift counter-attack instigated by Joao Moutinho saw Cristiano Ronaldo play a well weighted pass into the path of Hugo Almeida, whose powerful shot was palmed away by goalkeeper, Isaksson.

Almost immediately the same trio were involved again, this time Almeida setting up a shooting chance for Ronaldo who blasted his effort over the bar.

The second half began with Portugal looking more dynamic, and the lively Joao Moutinho almost broke the deadlock when he engineered a metre of space for himself on the edge of the box and hit a terrific shot that flew just the wrong side of the post.

Penalty claim

Paulo Ferreira then latched onto a beautiful lobbed pass from Ronaldo and burst into the box, falling in a heap under a high challenge from Majstorovic, with the referee waving away Portugal’s loud shouts for a penalty.

Sweden had looked far less threatening in the second half, but on 73 minutes Ibrahimovic showed what a danger he was by releasing a tremendous snap-shot from the edge of the area that forced Quim into a good reaction save.

Queiroz brought on Ricardo Quaresma and Danny for Almeida and Nani to freshen up the attack in an attempt to nick the points, but neither player was able to come up with a moment of magic to supply the breakthrough.

Portugal will be reasonably happy with the point at a difficult venue and now set their sights on equalling the points tally of early Group 1 leaders Denmark.

PortuGOAL man of the match: Joao Moutinho
Replacing the absent Deco, the Sporting midfielder played possibly his best game in a Portugal shirt, rarely failing a pass and constantly at the hub of team’s best attacking moments.

(by Tom Kundert)

Isaksson, Nilsson, Majstorovic, Hansson, Safari, Daniel Andersson, Sebastian Larsson, Holmen, Kallstrom, Ibrahimovic, Elmander
Yellow Cards: Ibrahimovic

Quim, Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Paulo Ferreira, Fernando Meira, Meireles, Moutinho, Nani (Danny, 85), Ronaldo, Almeida (Quaresma, 64)
Yellow Cards: Quaresma

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