Gareth Danaher reports from the UCD Bowl
Portugal ended Russia’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals as they edged out a 2-1 win at the UCD Bowl on Tuesday afternoon.
Goncalo Batalha and Gerson Sousa scored in either half for Portugal, who lost their opening game to Hungary, before Kirill Shchentin pulled one back for the Russians.
With Hungary safely through with two wins from their opening two games, it all comes down to a straight shoot-out between Iceland and Portugal in Longford on Friday.
The game started off brightly in Portugal’s favour as they held up the ball well in the Russian half.
Right winger Bruno Tavares tested Aleksandr Alekseev early on with two well-hit shots but the Russian shot stopper ensured both were comfortably saved.
Britto then came close in the eighth minute with a wonderful curled effort after he darted past Daniil Denisov in the Russian back four.
The Portuguese thought they had taken the lead after 15 minutes but the linesman flagged for offside as Filipe Cruz slotted the ball into the net.
Portugal did take the lead a minute later as the clever Sousa played a neat ball into Batalha, who slotted home.
Before the break the Portuguese had two more excellent chances Rafael Brito failed to head the ball past Alekseev from a corner.
Then, on the half hour, Tiago Tomas’ shot was deflected after a skilful combination pass with Batalha.
Russia failed to have any attempts in the first half, and the frustration was clear in coach Dmitri Khomukha’s eyes at the break.
The second half was only five minutes old when Portugal added a second to the score board.
Sousa turned his defender well and drilled a shot into the bottom left corner past goalkeeper Alekseev.
The second half was much like the first with Portugal seeing more of the ball although Ilya Golyatov and Aleksandr Mukhin had chances at goal for Russia.
Russia pulled a goal back from the penalty spot midway through the half as Filipe Cruz brought down Kirill Schetinin in the area.
Schetinin converted from the penalty area to make it 2-1, but that was all the Russians could muster and the full-time whistle sounded, confirming Russia’s exit.
Portugal manager Emilio Peixe and goalscorer Batalha spoke to the congregated media after and he had this to say "Overall, we played a very consistent game. It's true that we suffered a little bit in the second half, but we constantly tried to provoke our opponents and we were always looking for more goals, some goals of difference. The players gave a good answer.
"All players are important, everyone has quality, they will play those who will be in better condition and others are prepared to make their contribution and add quality.
"Iceland are a very strong team. They have managed to make three goals against Russia. they have very strong players in the duels.
“They put a lot of pressure on the transitions, the fast attacks and the dead balls. We want to win the next to secure the quarterfinals.
Batalha added: "We had a good reaction to the defeat in the first game, but we are aware that we have not achieved anything yet, and we are already focused on the next game.
“We knew that if we gave it all we would leave with victory. Teams also have to know how to suffer.
"We are going to work hard for the next two days. We believe in ourselves. We know that if we give our best, we will make it to the quarter-finals.
“A victory always increases confidence, but we have to have our feet firmly on the ground because we have not yet reached our goal.”
Portugal: Samuel Soares; Filipe Cruz, Eduardo Quaresma, Tomás Araújo, Rafael Brito; João Daniel, Tiago Ribeiro (Paulo Bernardo 76), Gonçalo Batalha (Daniel Rodrigues 63); Bruno Tavares, Gerson Sousa (Pedro Brazão 76), Tiago Tomás (Fábio Silva 63).
Subs not used: Diogo Almeida, Rodrigo Rêgo, Tomás Esteves, Famana Quizera, Henrique Pereira.
Booked: Filipe Cruz (68), João Daniel (89).
Russia: Aleksandar Alekseev; Daniil Denisov (Tigran Avanesyan 63), Lev Ushakhin, Nikita Kotin, Vadim Konyukhov; Alexander Mukhin (Andrei Savinov, 46), Igor Vorobyev, Ivan Shmakov (Daniil Shamkin 46); Kirill Schetinin, Stepan Melnikov (Islam-Bek Gubzhokov 33), Ilya Golyatov (Shapovalov 53).
Subs not used: Ilia Kuptsov (gk), Bogdan Logachev, Dmitri Kratkov, Aslan Mutaliev.
Attendance: 445 (official).
Referee: Krzysztof Jakubik (Poland).None
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