Tag Archives: Simao

Ronaldo impresses as Portugal rout North Korea

Portugal 7-0 North Korea


Portugal routed DPRK in inclement conditions at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. Portugal’s goal of qualification from the group stage would potentially come down to their goal difference versus that of the Ivory Coast and they quickly signaled their intent.

The North Korean set-up that had proved quite effective in stifling Brazil was replaced by a more attacking set-up, 4-5-1 becoming 3-5-2.

Both teams opened with some slick passing on the notably zippy surface. Portugal had the best of the early exchanges with Ricardo Carvalho hitting the post from a corner. Ri Myong Guk came to meet Tiago’s thumped corner but was unable to divert it. Carvalho was on hand to power a header against the post.

In an entertaining, end-to-end opening half North Korea showed tidy passing and set up a fine long range effort from Cha Jong Hyok. The defender’s powerful strike just swerving wide of Eduardo’s goal.

Portugal were exhibiting far more ambition than they did against Côte d’Ivoire and opened the scoring with a wonderful move. Tiago threading a beautifully judged pass through the North Korean defence, taking three Koreans out of the game in the process, in to the path of Porto’s Raul Mereiles who wound up before powering his shot under Ri Myong Guk.

The goal ended North Korea’s resistance. The team which had so valiantly harried Brazil and shown commendable control and passing in the opening thirty minutes here, immediately sank and allowed the Portuguese to control the game from thereon.

They were able to end the half only a goal down but it wasn’t long into the second half before they conceded again. Breathtaking interplay between Raul Mereiles and Hugo Almeida, brought into the side in place of Liédson, allowed Simão to advance on goal where he produced a neat finish.

The third followed soon after. Portugal circled the North Koreans seemingly fixated on securing their passage to the Round of 16 on goal difference. Coentrão, Benfica’s highly rated left-back, curled in an excellent cross to the unmarked Hugo Almeida who justified his selection with a headed goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo was excelling in his free-role in the second half. Carlos Queiroz unleashed the Real Madrid galactico after keeping him mostly on the left in the opening period.

Ronaldo was on hand to offer an assist for the fourth. The Ballon d’Or winner darted forward to retrieve a ball by the byline. He was given options by Hugo Almeida and Tiago who were sprinting towards the penalty area. Ronaldo chose the latter. He rolled a pass towards the edge of the penalty area where the Atlético Madrid midfielder was able to place the ball past the now beleaguered Ri Myong Guk.

The star wingback in this group is undoubtedly Maicon, although the Brazilian would have been pleased to produce a performance of the magnitude of that given by Coentrão this afternoon. The talented leftback was relentless. He constantly overlapped his wingers and looked to get involved in almost every attack. He very nearly added a goal to this consummate outing. Ronaldo, wreaking as much havoc as possible on the Koreans, played the leftback through at an angle. Coentrão’s effort just missing the target on this occassion.

The Associated Press reported that this match would be the first live broadcast of a World Cup game in the demagogic totalitarian state. The state broadcaster may well have shut down the feed as Liédson added the fifth with one of his first touches. The North Korean defence was visibly fatigued at this point, and this tiredness manifested itself after a botched clearance bobbled up to Liédson who did not fail to convert the easiest of opportunities.

Cristiano Ronaldo had not scored for Portugal in nearly two years and had come close several times in the first eighty minutes, even hitting the crossbar with a trademark strike from distance. His goal did come but not in his usual swaggering fashion. Ronaldo pounced upon a loose ball following a tackle just outside the penalty area. Ri Myong Guk attempted to challenge the Portuguese star but the ball ended up rolling along Ronaldo’s back and off the top of his head before it fell to his feet. He tapped in Portugal’s sixth and his smiles emphasised both the comical nature of the goal and his relief at having finally ended a long running goal drought.

Tiago added a seventh before the end but by now the scoreline had little importance. Portugal will now surely join their former colonial power in the last sixteen. The Portuguese press had slated their national team before the tournament but they will have had little to criticise here. Portugal played a fast paced, clinical game of football, albeit against questionable opposition. They will now face the Seleção with the top spot in the group at stake.

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Ivorians dominate but fail to break down Portugal

The much anticipated match between Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal failed to live up to expectations as it ended up more of a damp squib on a rainy evening in Port Elizabeth. The draw potentially creates a group dynamic where both Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal may have to score as many goals as possible against the People’s Republic of Korea should neither of them succeed in beating a highly rated Brazil side.

Didier Drogba was left on the bench by Sven Goran Eriksson, whose team failed to score despite perhaps being the better side. Portugal seemed to continue the form that saw them miss out on an automatic qualification spot. Côte d’Ivoire did most of the early running in what was building up into a tense encounter. A Cristiano Ronaldo dive deceived the match official and Didier Zokora of Sevilla was booked as a result. A similar incident followed later in the half. Ronaldo went down again, albeit this time legitimately, but this time the Portuguese was booked after getting involved in some verbal jousting with his tackler Demel.

Despite his petulant antics, if Portugal were to sparkle on the world stage then Ronaldo would be the catalyst. The Real Madrid superstar nearly scored what would have been one of the greatest goals in the competition’s illustrious history. He received the ball some thirty-five yards away from goal and quickly evaded Demel with a turn reminiscent of Johann Cruyff’s best efforts. He then unleashed a swerving piledriver which shook the frame of the goal as his effort cannoned off the left post. The scintillating strike was to be the best chance of the match for Portugal, and perhaps Ronaldo’s only meaningful contribution to the match. Didier Drogba blessed himself in thanks as the goalpost continued to shake seconds after the attempt.

Gervinho was proving to be the Elephants most formidable attacking threat in the absence of their captain. He tormented Chelsea fullback Paulo Ferreira and was involved in most everything that the Ivorians created in the first half. Gervinho continued to pose problems in the second half, forcing a save from the Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo.

By now the Elephants were established as the better side in this floundering contest which was not living up to the billing it had received in the months leading up to the tournament. The Ivorians however were the only side showing any attacking intent. They were content to leave Kolo Touré and Demel to sit in front of the back four while Yaya Touré joined in the attempts to take the game to the side that finished fourth in Germany in 2006.

For all of their encroachments into the Portugeuse final third the Côte d’Ivoire lacked a potent force to challenge the Portuguese centre-back partnership of Bruno Alves and Ricardo Carvalho. Excitement reverberated around the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium as Didier Drogba readied himself for his introduction in the place of his Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou.

The Côte d’Ivoire pressurised the Portuguese in the final minutes in search of what might have proved to be a vital goal in the quest to reach the last 16. Drogba himself had the chance to further his iconic status as he found himself through on goal in the last minute. Unfortunately for the former African Player of the Year, the pass from Kader Keita was just beyond his reach and his attempt at a stretch was uncontrollable.

The draw serves neither side particularly well. It is conceivable that both sides may lose to Brazil leaving a race for goals against North Korea as the method for qualification from the group. Portugal, on today’s evidence at least, will struggle to threaten Brazil’s solid defensive axis. Côte d’Ivoire should improve with Didier Drogba in his regular starring role. Both teams should be able to catch a glimpse of what Brazil are capable of this evening as the Seleçâo take on the group’s outsiders, Korea DPR.

No place for Ricardo Quaresma in Portugal squad

Former Real Madrid manager Carlos Queiroz has announced an unusually small provisional squad ahead of the World Cup Finals. The Seleçao das Quinas coach has named a twenty-four man line-up, just one more player than is allowed on the final roster. Queiroz had previously indicated that he was ready to name his final World Cup squad but doubts as to the fitness of some of his players have forced him to backtrack.

Real Madrid defender Pepe, who has only recently returned to full training following a prolonged absence, is among the players named.

Elsewhere, Internazionale’s mercurial winger Ricardo Quaresma has been dropped from the national side. The twenty-six year old was once considered one of football’s hottest properties but has seen his form slump dramatically since leaving Porto in 2008.

Portugal will being their 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign on the 15th of June in Port Elizabeth where they will face Côte d’Ivoire.

Goalkeepers Beto (Porto), Daniel Fernandes (Iraklis), Eduardo (Braga)

Defenders Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Zé Castro (Deportivo La Coruña), Bruno Alves (Porto), Ricardo Costa (Lille), Duda (Malaga), Pepe (Real Madrid), Miguel (Valencia)

Midfielders Tiago (Atlético Madrid), Deco (Chelsea), Raul Mereiles (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Sporting Lisbon), Pedro Mendes (Sporting Lisbon)

Forwards Nani (Manchester United), Simao (Atlético Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen), Liédson (Sporting Lisbon), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit St Petersburg)