Portugal would now return home from the Confederations Cup claiming the third position after a feisty win over the North American side Mexico in a thrilling extra-time 2-1 victory.
After losing to Chile in the semi-finals on penalty shoot-outs, the team thought it best to relieve Cristiano Ronaldo of his international duties for one game, as he went to stay alongside his newborn twins. Despite his absence, Portugal managed to inch out a victory in a game that almost felt lost.
Both these teams had played against each other much earlier in the tournament, when the game ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
Unlike their previous meeting, though, Portugal didn’t have an upper hand in the game. On the contrary, they were losing for the majority of the game, after Louis Neto flicked the ball into the back of his own net from a Javier Hernandez cross 54 minutes into the game.
Only in the dying injury time minutes could Pepe manage to equalize the score, thanks to a cross from Quaresma. Adrien Silva finally sealed the deal for the European team in the first half of extra time, after scoring a goal from the penalty spot, conceded by a Miguel Layun handball.
While Portugal were managing to hold on to their horses, the lack of Cristiano Ronaldo was clearly visible on the side, as they missed the forward’s presence in the final third along with a composed figure in big tournaments.
Portugal continued to display a lack of preparedness for penalties, as they failed to convert yet again. Adrien Lopez was tackled by Rafael Marquez’s tackle around the 15th minute, but the on-field referees waited for a decision from the CAR (Video Assisted Referee) to confirm a definite contact before awarding a penalty to Portugal.
Despite the free shot, Adrien Silva’s attempt was deftly stopped by Guillermo Ochoa, who displayed similar quality as he did during the 2014 World Cup.
The game went on with a lot of tackles, with both teams ending up playing with just 10 men, as Mexico’s substitute Raul Gimenez and Portugal defender Nelson Semedo were sent off for their second yellow cards.
A brilliant effort by Javier Hernandez was denied by Portugal keeper Rui Patricio around the 31-minute mark as they tried to break the deadlock. On the other side of the goal, Nani, Semedo, and Pizzi kept the attack on only to bear no fruit.
Written by Srivats Venkateswaran
Sports writer with a long experience of writing in football.Was football team head at EssentiallySports. Still deeply misses Sir Alex and Berbatov at United. An introvert at heart with a poetic hand. Engineer by choice, writer by passion.