Portugal defeated Mexico in extra time in Moscow to claim victory in the Confederations Cup third place playoff.
Mexico looked destined to win the game in normal time thanks to Portuguese defender Luis Neto’s own goal on 54 minutes, but an acrobatic injury-time goal from Pepe and an extra-time penalty from Adrien Silva gave the European champions the win in front of over 42,000 fans at Spartak Stadium.
It was a bad-tempered game that also saw Nelson Semedo sent off in injury time for Portugal while Raul Jimenez followed soon after for Mexico and Mexican boss Juan Carlos Osorio was also sent to the stands.
The two teams were meeting for the second time in the tournament, after their 2-2 group stage draw a fortnight ago in Kazan, although this time the European Champions prevailed despite being without captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who headed home following the semifinal to see his newborn twin sons for the first time.
Portuguese boss Fernando Santos and Mexico head coach Osorio both made numerous changes to their teams following their semifinal defeats against Chile and Germany respectively, but Rui Patricio remained in goal for Portugal and Osorio opted to start with Guillermo Ochoa in the Mexican goal.
Both keepers were busy in a lively first half. Andre Silva missed the chance to give Portugal the lead from the penalty spot in the 21st minute, after being brought down by Mexican skipper Rafael Marquez, with the decision coming via the VAR.
Mexico ‘keeper Ochoa saved brilliantly though, diving to his right to push away Silva’s spot kick at full stretch.
Several chances followed, notably when Patricio saved one-handedly at full stretch from Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez on 31 mins, after the Mexico striker cut inside and rifled off a powerful shot.
Mexico’s Oribe Peralta almost headed into his own net from a cross just before the break, but the teams went into half-time goalless.
The deadlock was finally broken on 54 minutes, when Portugal defender Neto, on his first start at Russia 2017, bundled the ball into his own net from a Javier Hernandez cross.
It was no doubt an uncomfortable moment for the Zenit St. Petersburg player at the home of Russia Premier League rivals Spartak Moscow.
Pizzi missed a golden chance to equalize for Portugal on 59 minutes when free in the box, but he pulled his shot wide of the right-hand post, before a brilliant reflex save from the inspired Ochoa denied a Martins header from point-blank range on the hour and kept Mexico in the lead as Portugal pressed.
Mexico seemed destined to claim the win as the game entered additional time, but Portugal defender Pepe acrobatically turned in a cross from substitute Ricardo Quaresma on 91 minutes to send the game into extra time.
Patricio saved superbly from Hirving Lozano at the back post in the first period of extra time, while Eliseu fired a free-kick just over the bar from 25 yards out for Portugal.
Portugal took the lead though when Miguel Layun was adjudged to have handled the ball in the Mexico box towards the end of the first part of injury time. This time Adrien Silva made no mistake from the spot, sending Ochoa the wrong way to give Portugal the lead.
Portugal were forced to play most of the second half of extra time with 10 men after Semedo was given a second yellow card, although Mexico were reduced to 10 men shortly afterwards when Jimenez was given a second yellow for a high boot on Eliseu.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was also sent to the stands in a bad-tempered close to the game and Patricio pulled off a superb late save to deny a Hector Herrera volley, but the European champions closed the game out to claim third spot at their first-ever Confederations Cup.