Portugal vs. Russia, 2013 UEFA World Cup Qualification: Final score 1-0, Postiga goal somehow enough

Martin Rose

Portugal managed to just about scrape victory against Russia to end Fabio Capello's side's perfect run in the qualification campaign.

Portugal came into their game against Russia needing a win, and in the end managed exactly that, although they were very fortunate in the end to get the result.

The opening goal came quickly as the hosts got off to the perfect start, Cristiano Ronaldo's trickery winning a free-kick which was delivered into the box by Miguel Veloso, who found Helder Postiga lurking to sweep home a volley and put the Selecao into the lead.

Portugal continued to dominate after the goal, but could not force any more clear opportunities - Ronaldo's goalbound effort ended up being blocked by his own player when Postiga ran across his path, before fine work from Vierinha set the Real Madrid winger up once again, only for him to slice a glorious chance over the bar.

Complacency then set in for the hosts, however, and Rui Patricio almost threw away the lead when he made a mess of a deep cross, shoving the ball out into the path of Dmitri Kombarov, but Glushakov's eventual shot flew just wide with the Portuguese defence all at sea.

Viktor Faizulin an Aleksandar Anyukov's early withdrawals due to injury could have left the Russians slightly disjointed in the first half, but they dominated after a nervy start, and should have had a penalty when Fabio Coentrao deflected Aleksandr Kerzhakov's cross away with his arm, but were hugely unfortunate to see the referee wave their appeals away.

Portugal appeared to regroup after half-time and immediately went close twice. First sloppy play from the visitors allowed Vierinha to put Ronaldo in space, but he could only crash his effort into the side-netting. The winger soon had a second opportunity after picking up Postiga's through-ball, but Igor Akinfeev was equal to his powerful effort to keep his side in the game.

Russia soon began to fall away, and Nani's introduction at the expense of Helder Postiga led to the Portuguese finding new avenues of attack down the flanks. Despite that, Russia sat deeper and temporarily frustrated the hosts, although it appeared for a while they had done enough to end their opponents' unbeaten record.

Yet the visitors did have one glorious chance to draw level after Vladimir Bystrov was released down the right and cut back the ball for the onrushing Shirokov, but the midfielder could only meet it with a tame effort which Rui Patricio easily saved.

As the game drew to a close, it was Portugal who went closest, Ronaldo with a pair of fiercely-struck efforts, but not enough to beat the confident Akinfeev in goal. In the end, Russia's energy ended in defeat, with their first-half dominance gone unrewarded and proving just enough for Portugal to claim a much-needed win.

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