The Portugal team led by Cristiano Ronaldo, He made it to the 2022 Qatar World Cup, after beating North Macedonia 2-0 in the final match of the playoffs.
Macedonia came from giving the surprise by knocking down Italy and leaving it without a place in the World Cup. Now he was looking for the feat against the Portuguese.
There was also expectation in world football about the possibility that Cristiano Ronaldo would stay out of Qatar. Which ultimately didn’t happen.
The Portuguese team went up on the scoreboard with a score from Bruno Fernandes, at minute 31.
Fernandes himself scored the second that already filled the Portuguese team with peace of mind.
Chronicle of the match
A goal in each half from the Manchester United attacking midfielder secured the ticket to Qatar for the ‘quinches’, who had already beaten Turkey at the start of the playoffs and who have not missed a World Cup event since 1998.
North Macedonia, which caused a surprise last week by knocking out reigning European champions Italy, had no real chance of repeating Palermo’s feat in a match dominated by Cristiano’s team.
Fernando Santos opted for the same system that gave him good results against Turkey, although with three novelties in the eleven, all in defense: those of João Cancelo and Pepe -who returned after a suspension and the coronavirus, respectively- and Nuno Mendes. The Macedonians bravely took the field and took possession of the ball in the opening minutes, with Portugal failing to win.
The ‘quinas’ had difficulty finding gaps in the first phase of the match. The first clear chance came in the 14th minute, with a shot from Cristiano that grazed a post, to which Macedonia responded immediately with two corners in a row that he did not take advantage of.
Little by little, Portugal got closer to the rival goal and Diogo Jota was able to open the scoring in the 24th minute with a header from a corner kick. But the first goal of the game came after a mistake by the Balkan team. After half an hour of play, Bruno Fernandes caught a bad pass from Stefan Ristovski and, after a combination with Cristiano, put the Portuguese ahead.
The goal ended up giving control of the game to Portugal, against a Macedonia that could not create danger against Diogo Costa’s goal. The locals came out after the break in search of a goal that would give them more peace of mind, which came, once again, at the feet of Bruno Fernandes.
The Manchester United footballer signed the brace in the 65th minute, when the Portugal team came on the counterattack quickly and Jota, from the left, put a cross into it. Fernandes finished off first and sent the ball to the bottom of the goal. North Macedonia tried to react and created some dangerous action, like a shot by Bardhi from the edge of the box, but the Levante player’s ball went wide.
Victory was already savored in the stands and the Portuguese began to sing their anthem at Do Dragão, packed for the occasion. The final minutes of the match were calm for Portugal and Fernando Santos took advantage of the advantage to make Vitinha, Porto’s young midfielder, debut in added time.
Portugal thus achieved the ticket to Qatar after a disappointing group stage in which they were second in theirs, behind Serbia. Portugal’s pass also ensures the fifth World Cup for Cristiano, who will play it at the age of 37.
SPORTS AND EFE