Bruno Fernandes on Monday scored twice to give Portugal a 2-0 victory over Uruguay and send them into the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup alongside France and Brazil.
The Manchester United midfielder scored nine minutes into the second half and then added an injury-time penalty following a handball by Jose Maria Gimenez at Doha’s Lusail Stadium.
“It was a well-deserved victory,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “The first part is over, we are in a hurry. Now I will continue to work to improve what needs to improve.”
“The team deserved it, they were solid and very strong both in the quality of the game and the bond between them,” he added.
With Portugal already through, Uruguay must now beat Ghana in their final Group H match to stand any chance of also progressing.
Both sides made three changes from their opening matches, with Portugal bringing in veteran Pepe for the injured Danilo Pereira, who suffered cracked ribs in training.
Pepe became the third-oldest outfield player in World Cup history and it was his first full 90 minutes in more than a month-and-a-half.
“I worked a lot with my club [Porto], which gave me the possibility of being 100 percent for the national team,” Pepe said of his surprise start.
Portugal dominated the first half, hogging the ball and creating several chances, but without ever testing Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet.
The main drama came after the break.
Moments after a pitch invader ran onto the pitch carrying an LGBTQ rainbow flag and with a message supporting Ukraine and Iranian women on his T-shirt, only to be spectacularly tackled by security, Portugal went in front.
Fernandes created space for himself on the left and curled an inswinging cross into the mixer, with Ronaldo breaking the offside trap to attempt a glancing header.
As the ball nestled in the goal, Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration, but FIFA decided he had not touched the ball, thus denying him a ninth World Cup goal, which would have put him level with Portuguese great Eusebio.
Later, with the 90 minutes almost up, Fernandes nutmegged Gimenez, whose trailing hand diverted the ball away from the midfielder and prevented him from finding himself one-on-one with Rochet.
Iranian referee Alireza Faghani awarded the spot-kick after a video assistant referee (VAR) check and Fernandes sent Rochet the wrong way after his signature hop, skip run-up.
BRAZIL 1, SWITZERLAND 0
A Brazil side lacking spark without the injured Neymar needed a late strike from Casemiro to edge out Switzerland 1-0 on Monday as the five-time winners secured their place in the World Cup last 16 with one game to spare.
The Brazilians had been frustrated by an obdurate Switzerland at Doha’s Stadium 974 and it looked as if they would have to settle for a point after a Vinicius Junior strike in the second half was disallowed for offside following a VAR check.
Then, with seven minutes remaining, Rodrygo flicked the ball on to Casemiro just inside the box and the Manchester United midfielder’s volley flew into the net with the help of a slight but significant deflection off Manuel Akanji.
“We had to be patient against an experienced side who know how to play the game. It was always going to be decided by little details, but we knew we would have plenty of possession and thankfully we managed to get the goal,” Casemiro told Brazilian broadcaster Sportv.
Switzerland remain on course to qualify, too, knowing a win against Serbia in their last game will take them through, while a draw might suffice.
GHANA 3, SOUTH KOREA 2
Mohammed Kudus on Monday announced himself on the global stage with his brace at the World Cup to show why he is one of the most coveted young players in soccer, in Ghana’s dramatic 3-2 win over South Korea in Qatar.
The 22-year-old, who plays for AFC Ajax, almost single-handedly saved Ghana’s World Cup campaign when he stroked in left-footed in the 68th minute.
He had earlier scored with a header, before Son Heung-min’s South Korea mounted a comeback, only for Kudus to win it for Ghana and their colorful, chanting fans.
He has now scored seven times in 20 appearances for his country.
It remains to be seen how much further Ghana go at the tournament — they have three points from two games and face a grudge match against Uruguay in their final Group H match on Friday.
Yet no matter what they do, Kudus looks set to go far once the World Cup wraps up.
Ghana captain Andre Ayew shrugged and smiled when asked afterward how impressed he had been by his young teammate.
“Not impressed at all,” Ayew said. “It’s normal — it’s Kudus.
“He has a bright future in front of him. We know this, I know this, Ghana knows it now, the world is going to know it,” he said. “You’ll see, more is coming from my boy.”
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