27/02/2024

Bruno Fernandes celebrates his game-sealing penalty against Uruguay (Image: FIFA World Cup / Twitter)

Portugal have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup knockout stage courtesy of a remarkable performance from Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

The midfielder scored a brace in the second half of the game against Uruguay, allowing Portugal to claim what will likely be a first place finish in Group H.

The first was an interesting strike, but impressive to say the least. Sending a cross in for Cristiano Ronaldo, the ball missed the target man’s head by an inch.

What we thought was a calm header from CR7 at the time, turned out to be an uninterrupted attempt from Fernandes that trickled past goalkeeper Sergio Rochet into the back of the net.

Fernandes scored his second in the 93rd minute, approaching the spot with confidence and slotting a penalty to cement his side’s 2-0 victory.

There was a lot of chatter about Portugal heading into the tournament, particularly surrounding Fernandes and his now former United teammate Ronaldo and how they would cooperate after the very public exit of the latter from the club.

However, both of these players have silenced their critics so far, combining well in the early stages of the tournament. Ronaldo was very solid in the last game, and Fernandes was immense today as they mount a serious claim to being one of the favourites in the back end of the competition.

On the whole, Portugal were the dominant side today. Although, Uruguay were not completely nullified at all times, creating a couple of solid chances that could have made it a very different contest.

The best of these was a brilliant solo run in the 32nd minute from Tottenham midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur, who moved skilfully past three Portuguese defenders before squandering a one on one chance against opposing goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

Had the chance been converted, it would’ve seen Uruguay take a 1-0 lead and may have sent the game on a completely different path. However, that was not to be and Portugal took advantage in the end.

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With this victory, Portugal are now guaranteed a spot in the Round of 16. They will face South Korea in their final group game, a match that will have major implications on how the rest of the group finishes.

All is on the line in that game, with South Korea needing to beat the European powerhouses to have a chance of progressing.

Uruguay will be going up against an inform Ghana side which took it up to Portugal in a narrow defeat, before putting three goals past South Korea.

Currently sitting bottom of the group, Uruguay also need a win to have a chance at going through, whereas the Ghanaians could progress with just a draw, and will have much less pressure on them going into the game.

A draw wouldn’t have been a bad result for Uruguay today, but the loss now means that they have to find something before Saturday or risk being eliminated from the World Cup in what some may consider a premature exit.

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