Sports, Football

Bruno Fernandes double sinks Uruguay

Published : 29 Nov 2022 07:55 PM

Cristiano Ronaldo was claiming the goal long after the final whistle and despite all available evidence to the contrary. The superstar without a club was denied, and denied another slice of Portuguese football history too, and may eventually have to accept his country’s serene progress into the last 16 of the World Cup was somewhat more important. Bruno Fernandes scored twice – despite Ronaldo’s protestations that he converted the first goal against Uruguay – to ensure Portugal joined Brazil and France as the only teams with a 100% start in the competition.

An eagerly-awaited clash of two talented and tempestuous heavyweights did not meet expectations but the repercussions could prove monumental for Uruguay. The South Americans must beat Ghana on Friday and hope Portugal do them a favour against South Korea to avoid an ignominious early exit. Ghana have waited 12 years for a chance to avenge their infamous defeat by the hand of Luis Suárez at the 2010 World Cup. How they would love to torment a Uruguay team that is yet to become the sum of its big name parts in Qatar.

“It is a crucial game but it has nothing to do with what happened 12 years ago,” insisted the Uruguay head coach Diego Alonso. “This is a different situation. We will bring all the weapons we have.” Alonso started with Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur, Darwin Núñez and EdinsonCavani. He introduced Suárez and Maxi Gómez, who both went close to equalising before Portugal were awarded a ridiculously harsh penalty in stoppage time.

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But they were second best throughout to a Portugal team that needed to be patient before finding holes in a resilient Uruguay defence in the second half. Uruguay committed the first foul inside 25 seconds and collected the first booking after six minutes, when Bentancur foolishly fouled Rúben Dias. But it did not develop into a simmering game of needle and gamesmanship, despite the presence of Pepe, Suárez and others. There was little sign of urgency from Uruguay either in the opening half an hour as they allowed Portugal to dominate possession without seriously troubling the goalkeeper Sergio Rochet. Cavani and Núñez were isolated until Bentancur brought belated positivity to Uruguay’s performance.

The Tottenham midfielder should have opened the scoring following a fine run from inside his own half that took him past William Carvalho and Dias. There was one job left to do but, as Diogo Costa advanced, he shot straight at the Portugal goalkeeper who saved with his thigh before gathering at the second attempt. The faces said everything. Bentancur looked to the sky and cursed his finish. Dias and Carvalho glared at each other over their lack of protection.