Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal against Azerbaijan
Portugal beat Azerbaijan 1-0 at the “Juventus Arena” in Italy, in the first round matches of the first group of 2022 World Cup qualifiers for Europe.
Maxime Mediev scored Portugal’s only goal by mistake.
The win lifted Portugal to a third point at the top of the group standings.
Fernando Santos started meeting Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva and Pedro Neto in the attack.
Anthony Lopez was the goalkeeper in the absence of Roy Patricio, while Robin Diasch led the defense, and Joao Felix was on the bench.
Description of the match
Portugal tightened its control of the game from the first minutes, and the players raced to miss opportunities.
The start of the dangerous chances was in the tenth minute of a shot by Robin Nieves, which was tackled twice by Shahruddin Mahmadiliev.
Joao Cancelo sent a cross in the 11th minute, and Mahmadiyev also blocked it.
Andre Silvas header also passed by the post shortly in the 12th minute.
Dominique Duarte, the leading defender, hit a wonderful header in the 26th minute next to the goal as well.
Finally, the goal came in the 37th minute. A cross from the right flank was blocked by Mahmadiyev and the ball hit Maxim Medvedev and accidentally hit his net.
Cristiano Ronaldo fired in the 43rd minute, but the goalkeeper turned it into a corner, to end the first half with Portugal advancing with a goal.
Azerbaijani coach Giovanni De Biasi started the second half with the first substitutions and the entry of Ismail Brahimi instead of Vojar Mustafaev, and Anatoly Nureyev instead of Abbas Husainov.
On the other hand, Portugal also started the game by entering Bruno Fernandes instead of Joao Moutinho.
It was Fernando Santos’s second substitution in the 63rd minute, with Rafa Silva entering instead of Pedro Neto.
The missed opportunities continued in the second half. Bernardo Silva broke through in the 66th minute and fired, but Mahmadiyev saved it brilliantly.
On the other hand, Azerbaijan nearly snatched the equalizer in the 70th minute after a cross from the left flank, which was saved by Anthony Lopez, and Anatoly Nureyev followed it up with a shot over the goal.
Bruno Fernandes also hit the ball in the 72nd minute, and the goalkeeper confronted it firmly.
Joao Felix took his place in the 75th minute, replacing Andre Silva.
Ronaldo paved the ball beautifully to Bruno Fernandes, who shot, but Mahmadiyev continued to shine and turned it into a corner with a spectacular show in the 76th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo continued threatening in the 85th minute from a fixed ball, and Mahmadiyev continued to shine and turned it into a corner.
Azerbaijan made three substitutions here, entering Alexei Issyev, Ramil Shedyaev and Namig Aliskirov instead of Emin Mammadov, Ali Gharbani and Maher Emeryeli in the 85th minute.
Joao Felix did not want to end the match without participating in a missed opportunity. He exchanged the ball in a wonderful way with Cristiano Ronaldo in the 91st minute and was alone and shot, but Mahmadiyev confronted it with his feet beautifully, to end the match with Portugal’s victory with a goal.
In the same group, Serbia defeated Ireland 3-2.
Dusan Vlahovic and Alexander Mitrovic scored twice for Serbia, while Alan Brown and James Collins scored the goals for Ireland.
Luxembourg did not play this round, while Portugal will play Serbia on March 27, and Ireland will play Luxembourg on the same day in the second round of qualifiers.
Portugal’s victory raised its tally to the third point in second place in the group behind Serbia, which snatched the lead on goal difference.