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New Zealand 0-4 Portugal: European champs cruise into Confed Cup semifinals

24 Jun, 2017 18:58
New Zealand 0-4 Portugal: European champs cruise into Confed Cup semifinals
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/ Reuters

Portugal booked their place in the Confederations Cup semifinals with a comfortable 4-0 win over New Zealand at Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Portugal went into the game knowing a draw would be enough to see them through into the knockout stages, although in the end they cruised into the semifinals with a comprehensive win over the All Whites – who had no chance of qualifying having lost their opening two games.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos made several changes to the team that beat hosts Russia 1-0 in Moscow on Wednesday but captain Cristiano Ronaldo was not one of them, despite many expecting the star striker to be rested.

Following a fairly uneventful opening 20 minutes Portugal began to apply more pressure with Ronaldo hitting the crossbar with a header just before the half-hour mark.

Portugal eventually took the lead from the penalty spot on 33 minutes after Danilo was adjudged to have been pulled down in the box at a set-piece.

Ronaldo duly dispatched the spot-kick for his 75th goal for Portugal, in front of the more than 50,000 fans at Saint Petersburg Stadium.

The lead was quickly doubled when Bernardo Silva slotted home on 37 minutes after getting on the end of Eliseu’s low driven cross, although the winger was injured in the process and later replaced.

New Zealand stuck to their task and did not let the quick-fire double deflate them, despite knowing they were staring at their third defeat from three games at the tournament and their 11th in 12 games played at Confederations Cup tournaments.

Ronaldo came off after the break to be replaced by Nani and Portugal added to their lead when Andre Silva scored a fine solo effort on 80 minutes.

A comprehensive win was sealed when Nani scored on 90 minutes.

Portugal head into the semifinal as winners of Group A, ahead of Mexico on group difference after the CONCACAF champions beat hosts Russia in Kazan 2-1 in an incident-packed game.

New Zealand head home pointless, but Anthony Hudson and his young team can be proud of some spirited performances against some of the world’s best teams.