Portugal top Uruguay on Fernandes brace, secure spot in last 16

Lusail, Qatar, Nov 28 (EFE).- Bruno Fernandes scored a pair of second-half goals as Portugal topped Uruguay 2-0 in Group H action on Monday and became the third team to book their place in the 2022 World Cup’s round of 16.

The Iberian side dominated possession and had full control of the contest in the early going at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar’s second-largest city, while Uruguay put on a woefully unambitious and cautious display of soccer in which all of their main attacking weapons – Federico Valverde, Edinson Cavani and Darwin Nuñez – were equally ineffective.

Ironically, however, the South American squad still had the best scoring chance of the first half – a drive by midfielder Rodrigo Betancur past a trio of Portuguese defenders that forced net minder Diogo Costa to make an outstanding save.

Portugal, for their part, were unable to create a clear scoring opportunity despite their superiority on the field and the score remained 0-0 until 10 minutes into the second half, when Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to head home a cross from Fernandes.

The goal went in the books, but it was credited to the 28-year-old Manchester United midfielder after FIFA ruled that Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, had not made contact with the ball on the play.

The 1-0 deficit finally lit a fire under Uruguay, who began in earnest to seek their first goal of the 2022 World Cup.

That spark came from a couple of strikers who came on in the 73rd minute as substitutes – Maxi Gomez and veteran Luis Suarez.

First, Gomez struck the post with a low, right-footed shot less than two minutes after entering the game. Then Suarez squandered a golden opportunity in the 77th minute when he sent the ball just wide of the post after receiving it in the area off a free kick.

But Uruguay’s newfound aggression came too little too late on a day that belonged to Fernandes, who scored his second goal three minutes into injury time when he converted a penalty chance after dribbling between defender Jose Maria Gimenez’s legs and forcing the falling defender into a hand ball.

With their second win in as many games in Qatar, Portugal have become the third team after France and Brazil to book their spot in the last 16.

They will next take on South Korea in their final round-robin contest on Friday, while Uruguay have one draw and one loss and must defeat Ghana that same day to have any chance of remaining in the tournament. EFE


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