Saturday, 24 June 2017

2017 FIFA Confed Cup Group A Round-up: Portugal Advance As Hosts Russia Crash Out

Hosts Russia exit from the Confederations Cup after a 2-1 loss to Mexico. While Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal thrashed New Zealand 4-0 to book their place in the semifinals of the tournament.
 New Zealand 0 - 4 Portugal

Portugal advanced to the semi-finals of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup after goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva and Nani secured a 4-0 win over New Zealand in Group A.

The Portuguese dominated in the opening exchanges of the encounter, but found it tough to carve out clear-cut chances in the 18-yard area.

Chances were hard to come by for both nations as the half went on, and they were both reduced to efforts from distance.

Portugal went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the 26th minute, but Ronaldo's towering was kept out by the crossbar.

Selecao were then handed a penalty after 30 minutes when Danilo was brought down. Ronaldo stepped up and made no mistake from the spot as he scored his 75th international goal, 1-0 to Portugal.
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The lead was doubled six minutes later as Ricardo Quaresma played in Eliseu, who fired the ball into box, where Bernardo Silva was on hand to slot home.

The score remained 2-0 to the European champions at the halftime break.

New Zealand carved out their first chance in the 58th minute, but Rui Patricio produced a superb save to deny Chris Woods at the far post.

With Portugal comfortably leading, Fernando Santos opted for a change after 68 minutes as Ronaldo made way for Luis Nani.

Andre Silva then added a third goal in the 80th minute as the new AC Milan striker fired into the far corner, after a fine individual run, 0-3.

Nani then went on to round off the scoring in stoppage time, as the Valencia winger cut on to his right foot before firing home from close range, 0-4.

Mexico 2 - 1 Russia

Russia have been eliminated from their home 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup at the group stage after a 2-1 defeat by Mexico in Kazan Arena.

Goals from Nestor Araujo and Hirving Lozano either side of half time was enough to cancel out an Aleksandr Samedov opener for Russia.

In a game of controversy, Russia were denied a first half penalty with the game still at 0-0 when Fedor Smolov seemed to be tripped in the box by Araujo.

What was perhaps strange was Saudi Arabian referee Fahad Al Mirdasi pulled the game back a couple of minutes after the incident for it to be reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

However, the official decided to stick by his original decision.  Nevertheless it was Russia who drew first blood, Aleksandr Samedov finishing neatly to roll the ball left footed past Ochoa to open the scoring on 25 minutes.

But the lead lasted just five minutes when on the half hour mark Araujo looped a header over Igor Akinfeev from a bizarre free kick awarded for hand ball.

That meant both teams went into the break level with Russia needing a goal to go through.

That goal never came. Instead, some comical defending from Igor Akinfeev allowed Lozano to head home when he failed to kick clear a long ball.

A Yuri Zhirkov red card when he picked up a second yellow for an apparent elbow didn’t help Russia’s cause and Mexico held on for the win.
With the loss, Russia became the first Confed Cup hosts not to progress from the group stage of the competition’s current format.

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