Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes scored twice as they beat stubborn visitors North Macedonia 2-0 to qualify for the World Cup finals in Qatar after a tense European playoff tie on Tuesday.
Roared on by 50,000 fans at a sold-out Dragao Stadium in Porto, Portugal dominated the game from the start but struggled to break down the strong North Macedonian defence, managing only three shots on target despite having almost 70% possession.
Fernandes oppened the scoring 30 minutes into the first half after intercepting a pass by his best friend, North Macedonia captain Stefan Ristovski, working a great one-two with Cristiano Ronaldo before whipping his shot past the goalkeeper.
The 27-year-old attacking midfielder sealed Portugal’s win in the 65th minute, striking home a close-range volley from a Diogo Jota cross.
Portugal qualified for a sixth straight World Cup finals and have not missed a major international competition in the last 20 years.
Poland beat Sweden 2-0 to secure place in World Cup finals
Robert Lewandowski and Piotr Zielinski fired second-half goals as Poland booked their place in the World Cup finals in Qatar with a 2-0 win over Sweden in an electrifying playoff match on Tuesday.
Polish captain Lewandowski scored from the spot five minutes into the second half after Jesper Karlstroem’s clumsy challenge on substitute Grzegorz Krychowiak led to the penalty, and he sent Robin Olsen the wrong way while slotting home.
Sweden had a slew of excellent chances saved by Wojciech Szczesny before a mix-up between Kristoffer Olsson and Marcus Danielson allowed Zielinski to score as he curled the ball into the net at the near post in the 73rd minute.
The Swedes brought record goal-scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic off the bench for the final 10 minutes but the Polish defence held firm in front of the capacity crowd to book their spot in the World Cup finals.