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Portugal rekindle Euro hopes with 4-2 win in Serbia

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group B - Serbia v Portugal - Rajko Mitic Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia - September 7, 2019 Portugal's Joao Felix in action REUTERS/Marko Djurica

By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE, Sept 7 (Reuters) – European champions Portugal got their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign back on track with goals from William Carvalho, Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva helping them to a pulsating 4-2 Group B victory in Serbia on Saturday.

The victory lifted the Portuguese to second place in the group on five points from three games, eight behind runaway leaders Ukraine who have 13 from five matches after their 3-0 win in Lithuania earlier on Saturday.

Third-placed Luxembourg and Serbia in fourth both have four points from as many games while Lithuania are bottom with one point from four matches.

Coach Fernando Santos, who steered Portugal to the Euro 2016 title in France and this year’s triumph in the inaugural Nations League, was pleased with his team’s performance.

“We showed a lot of creativity and attacking intent in a solid performance required to beat a very good Serbia side,” Santos told reporters.

“Getting the opening goal just before halftime was vital and in the second half we controlled the game. We stifled their excellent midfield and deserved the win.

“This win should boost our confidence ahead of Tuesday’s visit to Lithuania and nothing less than a win will do because it’s a complicated group.”

His counterpart Ljubisa Tumbakovic, who replaced Mladen Krstajic on July 1 three weeks after he was sacked by Montenegro, conceded he had endured a sour debut as Serbia coach.

“We lost to a majestic team full of world-class players,” said the 67-year old from Belgrade.

“We lacked the final pass in the first half and it didn’t help that we fell behind just before the break. As ever in Serbian football, we were vulnerable defensively and that undermines every other department.”

SPILLED CROSS

Portugal dominated the opening half and Carvalho fired them ahead in the 42nd minute when he poked the ball into an empty net from three metres after Serbia keeper Marko Dmitrovic spilled a Bruno Fernandes cross from the right.

Cristiano Ronaldo, looking subdued in the opening half and given a hostile reception at Red Star stadium as Serbian fans jeered him every time he touched the ball, twice came close early in the second half.

He fired inches wide from the edge of the penalty area after cutting in from the left and then curled a free kick narrowly off target before Guedes doubled Portugal’s lead with a fine individual effort.

The forward capped a flowing move as he sidestepped a defender and rifled in an unstoppable shot past Dmitrovic into the far corner from 12 metres to silence the raucous home crowd.

Centre back Nikola Milenkovic pulled one back for Serbia in the 68th minute, heading a Dusan Tadic corner past keeper Rui Patricio, who was two minutes later forced to tip a fierce Adem Ljajic shot from 20 metres over the bar.

Taunted by chants of “Messi” from Serbia’s die-hard fans, Ronaldo demonstrated his class in the 80th minute when he took a Bernardo Silva pass in his stride and coolly dinked the ball over the advancing Dmitrovic.

Serbia refused to roll over as Aleksandar Mitrovic drove a shot from inside the penalty area into the roof of the net after a defensive blunder in the 85th minute but Silva sealed the contest with a clinical finish barely 60 seconds later.

Other games on Saturday
………………………………………………………..
Kosovo (1) 2
Scorers: V. Muriqi 20, M. Vojvoda 66
Yellow card: Muriqi 15
Subs used: Berisha 51 (Rashani), Muslija 56 (Zhegrova),
Rashkaj 87 (Halimi)
Czech Republic (1) 1
Scorers: P. Schick 16
Yellow card: Celustka 18, Masopust 77
Subs used: Krmenčík 61 (Schick), Hušbauer 72 (Král), Dolezal
80 (Masopust)
Referee: Danny Makkelie
………………………………………………………..
England (1) 4
Scorers: H. Kane 24, H. Kane 49pen, R. Sterling 55, H. Kane
73pen
Yellow card: Keane 30, Rose 92
Subs used: Mount 67 (Henderson), Sancho 71 (Sterling),
Oxlade-Chamberlain 77 (Kane)
Bulgaria (0) 0
Yellow card: Bodurov 36
Subs used: Dimitrov 65 (Bodurov), Despodov 67 (Marcelinho),
Mladenov 82 (Ivanov)
Referee: Marco Guida
………………………………………………………..
Lithuania (0) 0
Subs used: Slivka 52 (Golubickas), Kuklys 63 (Matulevičius),
Laukžemis 68 (Černych)
Ukraine (2) 3
Scorers: O. Zinchenko 7, Marlos 27, R. Malinovskiy 61
Yellow card: Mykolenko 73
Subs used: Tsygankov 60 (Yarmolenko), Júnior Moraes 65
(Yaremchuk), Bezus 80 (Malinovskiy)
Referee: Irfan Peljto
………………………………………………………..
Iceland (1) 3
Scorers: K. Sigþórsson 31, B. Bjarnason 55, J. Böðvarsson 77
Subs used: Hallfreðsson 63 (Sigþórsson), Sigurjónsson 78
(Bjarnason), Kjartansson 84 (Böðvarsson)
Moldova (0) 0
Yellow card: Carp 42, Armaş 93
Subs used: Maxim Cojocaru I 65 (Cemîrtan), Ţurcan 67 (Carp),
Sandu 80 (Gînsari)
Referee: João Pedro Silva Pinheiro
………………………………………………………..
Serbia (0) 2
Scorers: N. Milenković 68, A. Mitrović 85
Yellow card: Maksimović 10, Kolarov 64
Subs used: Ljajić 59 (Lazović), Katai 83 (Kostić), Jović 87
(Milivojević)
Portugal (1) 4
Scorers: William Carvalho 42, Gonçalo Guedes 58, Cristiano
Ronaldo 80, Bernardo Silva 86
Yellow card: Rúben Dias 39, William Carvalho 89
Subs used: João Cancelo 65 (Nélson Semedo), João Félix 70
(Gonçalo Guedes), João Moutinho 85 (Bruno Fernandes)
Referee: Cüneyt Çakιr
………………………………………………………..
Turkey (0) 1
Scorers: O. Tufan 89
Yellow card: Belözoğlu 71, Ç. Söyüncü 78, Yazıcı 90
Subs used: Karaman 46 (Yalçın), Tufan 61 (Meraş), Kılınç 80
(Çalhanoğlu)
Andorra (0) 0
Yellow card: Marc Vales 20, Victor Rodríguez 47, Moisés San
Nicolás 50, Jordi Aláez 90
Subs used: Marc García 63 (Victor Rodríguez), Jordi Aláez 79
(Ludo), Emili Garcia 87 (Marcio Vieira)
Referee: Don Robertson
………………………………………………………..
France (2) 4
Scorers: K. Coman 8, O. Giroud 27, K. Coman 68, J. Ikoné 85
Missed penalty: A. Griezmann 36
Subs used: Ikoné 77 (Coman), Digne 80 (Hernández), Fekir 84
(Lemar)
Albania (0) 1
Scorers: S. Cikalleshi 90pen
Yellow card: Gjasula 66, Xhaka 78
Subs used: Gjasula 54 (Ramadani), Cikalleshi 61 (Balaj),
Xhaka 73 (Abrashi)
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano
………………………………………………………..

Sunday, September 8 fixtures (CET/GMT)
Armenia v Bosnia-Herzegovina (1500/1300)
Switzerland v Gibraltar (1800/1600)
Georgia v Denmark (1800/1600)
Romania v Malta (1800/1600)
Spain v Faroe Islands (2045/1845)
Sweden v Norway (2045/1845)
Greece v Liechtenstein (2045/1845)
Finland v Italy (2045/1845)
Monday, September 9 fixtures (CET/GMT)
Azerbaijan v Croatia (1800/1600)
Northern Ireland v Germany (2045/1845)
Estonia v Netherlands (2045/1845)
Hungary v Slovakia (2045/1845)
Slovenia v Israel (2045/1845)
Poland v Austria (2045/1845)
Latvia v North Macedonia (2045/1845)
Scotland v Belgium (2045/1845)
San Marino v Cyprus (2045/1845)
Russia v Kazakhstan (2045/1845)
Tuesday, September 10 fixtures (CET/GMT)
Montenegro v Czech Republic (2045/1845)
England v Kosovo (2045/1845)
Luxembourg v Serbia (2045/1845)
Lithuania v Portugal (2045/1845)
Moldova v Turkey (2045/1845)
France v Andorra (2045/1845)
Albania v Iceland (2045/1845)

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