Portugal defeated Turkey 3-1 in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers Playoffs and have progressed to the Playoffs finals where they will face North Macedonia in a showdown, with the winner earning the tickets to Qatar.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo feels nothing is won for the Selecaps and nothing is achieved until they win that game against North Macedonia and confirm their berth in the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
Portugal had a fluent start and they converted that into a goal in the 15th minute when Otavio struck first blood against Turkey. Later right before the halftime whistle Liverpool forward Diogo Jota combined with Otavio as Jota headed home doubling the lead in the 42nd minute. Till halftime, Fernando Santos should have been very pleased with how the game has gone and would have wanted more of the same.
Portugal resumed the second half piling the pressure on Stefan Kuntz’s Turkey as they kept Merih Demiral and Soyuncu on their toes. But some rather wasteful finishing allowed the visitors to gain back some initiative in the game. Burak Yilmaz pulled one back in the 65th minute and Turkey believed they were back in the game.
Kuntz wanted to attack more so he unleashed young forward Enes Unal to pair up with Yilmaz. The youngster who is having a stellar campaign with Getafe hustled hard and gave Turkey the glimmer of hope that was needed to come back in the game. It was around the 84th minute when Unal was about to receive a ball in the Portugal penalty box. Just as he was doing that Jose Fonte came up with a reckless challenge which caught Unal as the Turkish forward instantly went down crying for a penalty. The referee used VAR and then handed the spot-kick to Turkey.
Yilmaz stepped up shouldering a lot of hope but he skied the penalty wide over the target. He simply could not even test Diogo Costa in Portugal’s goal. However, Portugal escaped jail there as Kuntz’s men could have taken the game to extra time.
But Fernando Santos reacted quickly as he brought on several youngsters to feast on the tiring Turkish defence. It was an excellent move and pass from Rafael Leao who laid the ball for Matheus Nunes and the Sporting CP man made no mistake in scoring the third goal of the night for Portugal.
After the win, Ronaldo shared a very motivating post where he shared how the players have taken the first step in reaching their main objective of World Cup qualification. But he also adds how the job is not over yet so he demands them to remain focused as there is work to be done before catching that flight to Qatar.
“The first step has been taken towards our great objective, towards the 2022 World Cup. Nothing is won, nothing is achieved. We have to continue to work in a serious and focused way, respecting the opponent but always believing in our abilities. Power Portugal! Go to Qatar!” (translated from Portuguese)
Portugal will take on North Macedonia in the Playoffs finals as they defeated Italy courtesy of a late goal from Aleksandr Trajkovski.