Bruno Fernandes is the toast of the town tonight after the Manchester United star led Portugal to a 2-0 win over Uruguay at Lusail Iconic Stadium, with Fernando Santos’ men becoming the third nation to book passage to the knockout stage in Qatar.
It was a frustrating first half for the neutral supporter and biased fan alike after Ronaldo-led Portugal failed to make their dominance count, with A Seleção boasting 70% possession while leading Uruguay in the shot chart eight to four as well as completing three times the amount of passes than their South American adversaries (294-98).
But Diego Alonso’s La Celeste came closest to breaking the 0-0 deadlock in the latter stages of the first half when Tottenham midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur found himself one-on-one with keeper Diogo Costa before his effort was dispatched right at the FC Porto shot-stopper. It would have been much more than the CONMEBOL giants deserved after Portugual remained mostly in control throughout, while questions once again could be asked regarding why Uruguay struggled to impose themselves in attack despite the level of ability they historically possess in the forward line.
That same dynamic continued after the half-time interval under you know popped up to put Portugal ahead in the 54th minute when Bruno Fernandes lofted a curling ball into the box in search of Cristiano Ronaldo only to narrowly miss the 37-year-old’s head before curling past Sergio Rochet, with Fernandes officially scoring his first goal of the tournament.
Uruguay came close to leveling matters in the 75th minute through second-half substitute Maximiliano Gómez whose thunderous effort rattled the woodwork and left Diogo Costa for dead, but could not find the back of the net in what was the third time in two matches that Uruguay had struck the woodwork in Qatar. Alonso’s men came close just minutes later again when Giorgian de Arrascaeta was put through on goal after a driving run from Federico Valverde but his effort was tamely fluffed at a thankful Costa who parried away before collecting.
Their efforts would be in vain in the final minutes of normal time when Bruno Fernandes nutmegged José Giménez who was questionably judged to have handballed while going to ground to try to tackle the Manchester United midfielder, with Fernandes stepping up to make it two to the good and Portugal officially advancing into the round of sixteen.
As things stand in Group G going into the upcoming final day of group play, both Uruguay and South Korea will need to win in order for each of them to have a chance at progressing while hoping the other drop points when Uruguay meets Ghana and South Korea clashes with Portugal, with the fact that Uruguay having yet to score a goal this World Cup asking serious questions whether or not they’re capable of anything more this winter.
Portugal Player Ratings
- GK: Diogo Costa (7) - A strong performance from Costa tonight that saw him make a handful of saves to keep the score at 1-0 before Portugal went on to double their lead.
- RB: João Cancelo (7.5) - Not a typically show-stopping performance from the Man City star in an attacking sense but he remains as reliable as ever on the defensive side of the ball. A good night for him.
- CB: Rúben Dias (6.5) - Slightly off the boil from the Man City defender, with a yellow card knocking off some of his possible rating. Solid regardless.
- CB: Pepe (7) - Pepe continues to perform on the international stage despite his age as the center-back veteran put in a good 90-minute outing for Santos’ men.
- LB: Nuno Mendes (7) - The 20-year-old featured brightly as in line with his performances for PSG this season before being removed before half-time due to injury.
- DM: Rúben Neves (6.5) - A decent performance from the Wolves star at the base of the Portugal midfield, whose rating suffers slightly due to a yellow card.
- CM: Bernardo Silva (7) - Muted in terms of direct contribution on the scoresheet but Silva was excellent in dictating play as always either through distribution or driving on the ball.
- CM: William Carvalho (7) - Carvalho was good in midfield on the night in a box-to-box role that highlighted his ability to break up play but also drive forward.
- RW: Bruno Fernandes (8.5) - Two goals for the Man United star on the night that nearly became a hat-trick if not for hitting the woodwork in the final moments. Excellent.
- LW: João Félix (6.5) - A reduced outing tonight from the Atlético Madrid forward who at times appears a bit lost in this system that highlights other assets more regularly.
- CF: Cristiano Ronaldo (6.5) - An okay performance from the 37-year-old star who thought he would get credit for his second goal of the tournament, but it remains to be seen if he is the right choice to lead the line.
- Sub: Raphaël Guerreiro (7)
- Sub: Rafael Leão (6.5)
- Sub: Matheus Nunes (6)
- Sub: Gonçalo Ramos (6)
- Sub: João Palhinha (6)
Uruguay Player Ratings
- GK: Sergio Rochet (6) - Not at fault for the penalty or for Fernandes’ opener after Ronaldo’s distracting run but he was hardly self-assured either.
- RCB: Sebastián Coates (6) - Similar to Godin overall. Serviceable in most respects but Uruguay needs to move away from him moving forward.
- CB: Diego Godin (6) - An icon in Uruguay and rightfully so, but tonight - and this tournament overall - shows why it will be his last at the World Cup.
- LCB: José Giménez (5.5) - A tough night at the office for the highly-experienced defender after giving away a late penalty and struggling throughout.
- DM: Matías Vecino (6) - In the team on the night as a shield for the back three and to link the midfield, but Vecino did not have one of his better outings.
- RM: Gustavo Varela (6) - Varela lacked any real influence on proceedings out on the right flank in a right-wing/right-back deployment on a frustrating night.
- CM: Federico Valverde (6.5) - So often the Real Madrid star has been excellent for club and country, and though he was good in spells, he perhaps wasn’t consistent enough to earn a higher rating.
- CM: Rodrigo Bentancur (7) - Should have scored to put Uruguay ahead and will be kicking himself for not doing so, but overall, the Tottenham man was good.
- LM: Mathías Olivera (6) - A booking for Olivera in what was nothing more than an okay performance in a somewhat hybrid role throughout.
- RF: Darwin Núñez (6) - A sub-par performance from the Liverpool star though he was often stranded in the final third. Remains largely ineffective in this system.
- LF: Edinson Cavani (6) - Perhaps deserved to stay on given his presence in the team and goalscoring record, but Cavani did not have a typical performance here.
- Sub: Giorgian de Arrascaeta (6.5)
- Sub: Facundo Pellistri (6)
- Sub: Luis Suárez (6)
- Sub: Maximiliano Gómez (6.5)
- Sub: Matías Viña (6)