Squad news


17 Oct 2012
Pizzi and Oliveira return from international action without seeing any minute on the pitch, to make things worse Portugal only picked one point in two games and is now far from Russia, the leaders at group F of the World Cup qualifiers.

Portugal was having an important match at home facing Northern Ireland; the latest defeat visiting Russia (0-1) was forcing them to pick up the three points. Once again both Pizzi and Nélson Oliveira were on the bench as coach Paulo Bento repeated an unchanged team from the side that lost on Friday; the only modification was the entry of Miguel Lopes for injured Fábio Coentrão.

Portugal had the ball possession in the entire first half, but was unable to create scoring opportunities; instead the visitors shocked the do Dragão stadium with a deadly counterattack in which Lafferty assisted McGinn to defeat Rui Patrício.

The locals reacted and had three clear opportunities before half-time; in the first Zaragoza’s Hélder Postiga headed wide a cross coming from the left (34’), then right-back João Pereira missed the target with a crossed shot from the edge of the area (37’), but the most important one was a clearance of a defender after a cross of Postiga that hit the woodwork (33’).

Nani was a starter and is one of the reasons why Pizzi hasn't debuted yet with the national team

Desperation surrounded Portugal’s national team and the situation didn’t change for the second part, this despite Paulo Bento switched the system into a 3-4-3; once again the Lusitanian outfit had the ball possession, but missed aim and fresher ideas. Within the first fifteen minutes only Ronaldo had a clear attempt to score, but it was saved by visiting goalie Roy Carroll (58’). The harassment was bigger after the 60-minute mark.

With the passage of the minutes Roy Carroll became a key figure as he started to make several important saves. The locals coach continued trusting in the same players and allowed the entry of Eder and Silvestre Varela, reason why neither Pizzi nor Oliveira played in the game, this despite the poor performance of Nani and Postiga. Curiously both Nani and Postiga participated in the play of the equalizer, a confusing action inside the box that brought hope to the locals, though they were unable to clinch the three points.

Both Depor’s players haven’t debuted yet in the World Cup qualifiers, now they return to A Coruña and will attend to Wednesday’s training session at Abegondo. Portugal, meanwhile, are in trouble as they have only picked seven points in four games; they’re tied with Israel and are five points under leaders Russia.

Portugal: (4-3-3) Rui Patrício - João Pereira (Eder 74’), Pepe, Bruno Alves, Miguel Lopes (Rúben Amorin 46’) - Moutinho, Veloso, Ruben Micael (Varela 61’) - Nani, Hélder Postiga, Cristiano Ronaldo
North Ireland: (4-5-1) Roy Carroll – Aaron Hughes, Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Mcgivern – Corry Evans, Steven Davis, Norwood, Chris Baird, McGinn - Lafferty
Goals: 0-1: (30’) McGinn, 1-1: (79’) Postiga
Referee: Thorsten Kinhoefer. He showed yellow card to Aaron Hughes (84’), Pepe (86’)
Venue: Estádio do Dragão (Porto)



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