Portugal 2-0 Uruguay – 2022 World Cup: Bruno Fernandes double sees his team qualify for the round of 16

The image of a smiling Bruno Fernandes burst onto the big screens and a groan of disappointment spread through the stadium. Just in case there was any confusion over who and what they were all there to see. It wasn’t poor old Bruno.

They were there for Cristiano Ronaldo. They were there to see him score a goal at the Lusail Stadium, home of this year’s World Cup final. The place where Lionel Messi found the net on Saturday night.

Anything Messi can do, Ronaldo can do, right? That seemed to be the case in the 54th minute when Fernandes clipped the ball in front of Portugal’s left wing and Ronaldo slipped past Sebastian Coates, sprang up and applied the weakest of looking headers.

He sprinted in celebration as he settled into the net, biceps bulging and fists pumped, although he refrained from the full-scale spring and pirouette affair, which perhaps to have been the first clue that he knew he hadn’t made contact with the ball. .

At this tournament, FIFA uses an Adidas ball containing a sensor as part of the semi-automated offside technology. It’s supposed to be able to detect the slightest touch so that someone, somewhere knows who it’s talking to.

They awarded it to Fernandes although, presumably, Portugal boss Fernando Santos didn’t care who it was at all. It set them on the path to another victory and a place in the last 16, demanding a modicum of revenge for the World Cup exit at the hands of Uruguay four years ago.

Fernandes claimed his second of the night, a penalty generously awarded for handball after a VAR reference.

Ronaldo couldn’t claim this one. He was resting on the bench, otherwise he surely would have risen to rock him from a crowd of nearly 89,000, who devoured his every move from his first appearance, strutted around during the warm-up and started the match with a shoulder pass and a towering jump to earn a header.

In truth, the clubless striker has been the center of attention since the start of the tournament.

He arrived in an interview storm, was released by Manchester United and scored Portugal’s first of the tournament, making him the first man to score in five World Cups.

In the Lusail stands, many cried as he performed a few pointless jumps near a corner flag and wobbled his leg. It was a strange reaction. Not the one he would expect at Old Trafford, but the best performers know their audience.

Here he strode through the party’s successes and, in truth, there had been very little else to tempt the paying public from their expensive seats in a cautious, scrappy and finicky played at a pedestrian pace.

Rodrigo Bentancur was cautioned in the fifth minute, behind Ruben Dias, and charted a dangerous course.

Every challenge he issued became a potential problem, with the Portuguese players inviting him into a tackle by delaying the release of their pass. Then crumbling into a heap when he got close enough to make contact. Uruguay returned the favor, and it did nothing to help the flow of the match.

Bentancur carved out the best chance of the first half. He was created on his own, carrying the ball inside his own half before weaving between two defenders at the edge of the Portuguese penalty area and breaking through the goalkeeper.

He has scored four goals in his last five Premier League games for Tottenham but has failed to get past goalkeeper Diogo Costa on that occasion. Costa closed it, spread his body and made a block with his legs.

Veteran defender Pepe returned to Portugal at the age of 39 to replace Danilo Pereira who broke his ribs in training and was ruled out of the group stage. There was another blow when left-back Nuno Mendes was injured before half-time and limped off in tears.

Joao Felix squandered Portugal’s first clear chance, seconds after a rainbow-flagged pitch invader interrupted the proceedings, but they quickly took the lead through Fernandes’ cross not headed by Ronaldo.

Belatedly, Uruguay took risks, recovered and came close to equalizing. Fede Valverde rattled off a post with a fierce shot and Luis Suarez hit the side netting. Giorgian de Arrascaeta forced a fine save from Costa.

Then Fernandes converted his second from the spot and twice came close to a hat-trick.

A volley at the back post saved keeper Sergio Rochet’s feet and a low drive from the edge of the penalty area that beat the keeper to bounce off a post. He deserved more than a moan.


Follow Sportsmail’s live blog for the World Cup Group H clash between Portugal and Uruguay.

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