World Cup qualifiers – Portugal vs North Macedonia
Playoffs Final – Path C
It was the fixture that stood between Ronaldo and possibly his last shot at the World Cup. It was North Macedonia, who have defeated Germany and Italy in recent games, whom they met at the Estádio do Dragão.
The visitors were solid in defence once again, in the first half an hour. However, the cream eventually rose to the top. The hosts, despite holding most of the possession, were not able to create a lot.
However, they did make the most of their chances and stopped the away attack from getting anywhere close to scoring. Bruno Fernandes’ brace sealed the 2-0 win and a spot in the World Cup for Portugal.
World Cup qualifiers – Portugal vs North Macedonia: Match report
Portugal Starting XI: Costa, Cancelo, Pepe, Danilo, Mendes, Moutinho 90+1’, Fernandes 88’, Silva 88’, Otavio 77’, Jota 77’, Ronaldo.
Subs: Vitinha 90+1’, João Félix 88’, Matheus Nunes 88’, Rafael Leão 77’, William Carvalho 77’.
Scorers: Fernandes 32’, 65’.
North Macedonia Starting XI: Dimitrievski, Ristovski, Musliu, Velkovski, Alioski, Elmas 87’, Bardhi, Ademi, Trajkovski 56’, Ristovski 46’, Kostadinov 75’.
Subs: Boban Nikolov 87’, Bojan Miovski 46’, Darko Churlinov 56’, Stefan Askovski 75’.
Bruno Fernandes, Portugal goalscorer: “This game will stay in the memory because we made it to the World Cup. It was a very important match, the fans were impeccable. The atmosphere was spectacular today – people realised what we needed.”
Fernando Santos, Portugal coach: “I have already won two competitions and I dream a lot of winning a third. I have to congratulate the players for their fantastic attitude. In the first ten minutes we couldn’t get it right. I said that this North Macedonia side knew how to play. However, there was a spirit of helping each other out and great support from the fans.”
Blagoja Milevski, North Macedonia coach: “I am satisfied with my players. We should be proud of the guys for what they’ve done from September until today. They bring great potential and talent, and are well on their way to getting closer to the best in Europe.”
Stefan Ristovski, North Macedonia defender: “We leave with our heads held high. We went on a journey that no-one would have believed and we can take great pride from that. We caused a big shock that stunned world football, but we have to keep going and believe that it’s possible to be in more games like this.”