Coming into this match, Portugal only needed a win at home to advance to the World Cup. Switzerland would try to stand in their way. Ronaldo would start up top as a striker in a 4-4-2 alongside Andre Silva. Early on the Swiss would press keeping Portugal on the back foot. It was back-and-forth as neither team seemed to want to take control of the match.
Even when we reached the half-hour mark they were still feeling each other out. Personally, I was teetering on boredom even though both teams had their chances at goal. Portugal’s first real threat came in the 32nd minute, as Bernardo Silva had a shot nearly point blank which was parried away by the Swiss keeper.
Finally, in the 41st minute we’d get some real action!
Eliseu of Portugal would send a beautiful cross into the box, where the keeper made the initial save – but the ball was kicked into the back of the net by Swiss defender Johan Djourou putting Portugal up 1-0 with an own-goal, with four minutes left in the first half.
And that’s how the half would end: Portugal 1 – 0 Switzerland
After the restart Portugal started looking a bit more dominant on the ball than they had been in the first half. They’d give up an early (51st minute) set-piece to the Swiss, but nothing would come of it, which was a bit surprising given the fact that Portugal’s set-piece defending looked a bit shambolic at times, with players wandering around like they were looking for the lost-and-found at an amusement park.
It amazes me that the Swiss didn’t take advantage of it.
In the second half Ronaldo would have a couple chances in on goal, but with nothing to show for it.
Have no fear, as Bernardo Silva would come to the rescue in the 57th minute! He would send a pass across the face of goal to a waiting Andre Silva who was standing at the back post with a wide-open net.
The goal would put Portugal up 2-0, thus sealing their place in the 2018 World Cup. Ronaldo would have one of the last chances on goal in the 79th minute as he broke in on goal, going one-on-one with the Swiss keeper. He couldn’t get the ball out from his feet and the keeper came and smothered the ball — snuffing out any chance at putting it into the back of the net. That would seem to sum up Ronaldo’s night.
Final Score: Portugal 2 – 0 Switzerland
The Swiss are headed to the playoff round in November.
Tonight, just wasn’t his night.
More to the point, he was a bit of a non-factor for most of the match. He had his chances on goal, but just couldn’t, for whatever reason, connect. He tried going to the game, but it was avoiding him most of the night. He’d drop back in the midfield to be a facilitator, then he’d go out wide -– leaving Andre Silva by himself as the lone striker which at times turned a 4-4-2 into a 4-5-1.
You could tell early on that he was frustrated with the lack of touches and what he perceived as a missed chance by not getting the ball to him. Portugal showed me that they can operate without their Captain if need be and do well for themselves. Neither goal scored by Portugal had Ronaldo involved.
Player Rating: 6.5/10
I know that seems to be a bit harsh, but it’s the truth. I don’t want to go as far as to say he was ‘unlucky’ tonight – but he had his chances and he just couldn’t convert and standing around bitching about it didn’t help his team. We’ve seen it before, and frankly I’m just not all that happy when he pulls stuff like he did this evening.
But the bonus here is that International Break is over, he didn’t get injured, and he can return to Madrid in good health. Hopefully tonight was a momentary dip in form and he’ll be back to his old self on the weekend.