Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

The Seleção managed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan in World Cup 2014 qualifying on Tuesday. Paulo Bento’s side was helped by a red card to Azerbaijan’s Rauf Äliyev that allowed Portugal to breakthrough in the second half.

Portugal were hoping to erase the memory of a disappointing 3-3 draw against Israel on Thursday. The Seleção were without their two brightest stars, with Manchester United’s Nani missing his second straight match with an injury and Cristiano Ronaldo serving a suspension. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Danny and Wolfsburg’s Vieirinha started on the wings for this match.

Portugal dominated possession straight from the opening minutes, but like in so many recent matches goals did not come easily. Hélder Postiga missed two excellent chances in the opening half hour of play. Later in the first half, Bruno Alves struck a free-kick off the post.

The Seleção went into half-time dominating in every facet of the match, but still lacked the crucial goal to ease the nerves of their supporters. Despite, a few nervous moments in the opening half-hour the Portuguese defence looked solid at the back, not conceding a shot on goal.

In the second-half, Azerbaijan’s Rauf Äliyev received his second yellow of the half after his arm made contact with Pepe’s face in an airborne challenge. The decision was the turning point of the match.

In 63rd minute, Bruno Alves scored off a corner for the second straight match to put Portugal ahead for good. Later on in the 79th minute, Fábio Coentrão found some room on the left side and managed to find substitute Hugo Almeida who scored on a diving header.

Defender Pepe picked up a yellow card in the first half of the match which means he will miss Portugal’s next qualifying match against Russia on June 7th. Manager Paulo Bento praised his team’s effort and added that the result was fair, considering the number of chances Portugal had during the match.

Goalscorer Bruno Alves told RTP after the match that the victory proves that Portugal still have a good chance to qualify for the World Cup and urged supporters not to count them out.

“We showed our ability and character. We played very well and scored goals. It was important to win and we did. This highlights our strength as a team. We are together until the end, in good moments and bad. We always believed because we have quality players. Less than good results will not change our resolve,” Alves added.

Bruno Alves’ Goal Against Azerbaijan

Hugo Almaida’s Goal Against Azerbaijan

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