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26.03.2013 » Azerbaijan 0-2 Portugal. Mission accomplished even without Ronaldo

Bruno Alves header goal, in Azerbaijan 0-2 Portugal, for the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifiers

There was a "must-win" feeling hovering in the air, as Portugal traveled to Baku to face Azerbaijan. With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended for this game and after having dropped another 2 points last Friday against Israel, the Portuguese National Team finally pulled it off and defeated the home side by 0-2, thanks to goals from Bruno Alves and Hélder Postiga.

The Portuguese "Road to Brazil" journey has finally met a happy chapter earlier today, after a 0-2 win against Azerbaijan, in Baku. As it had already been reported numerous times over the past few days, Cristiano Ronaldo was forced to skip this game due to a yellow-card suspension, a fact that necessarily raised concerns amongst the Portuguese National Team supporters. Nevertheless, Paulo Bento's men managed to get the job done, but their task has only been made easier after the home side got one man sent off, near the 55th minute. Shortly after that incident, Portugal picked the lead with a Bruno Alves powerful header and Hugo Almeida sealed the deal with 10 minutes left for the final whistle, this time from an easy header to an empty net.

Azerbaijan 0-2 Portugal goals and highlights:

There were a lot of doubts about how the Portuguese National Team was going to perform this Tuesday afternoon, especially after that last Friday's poor display in Israel, but also because they went for this match deprived of Cristiano Ronaldo, due to suspension. Paulo Bento handed Ronaldo's number 7 jersey to Vieirinha, the 27-years old midfielder from Wolfsburg and relied on Danny's speed to put today's opponent in trouble. It wouldn't be neither of them to unbalance the game though, but we'll get to that in a few moments...

The first-half ended goalless, despite a couple of great chances created by Paulo Bento's men. Hélder Postiga got very close to score in several occasions, but once again, he proved to be unreliable in front of goal and Portugal went to the locker rooms with an unsettling draw.

Portugal dominated the first half and as soon as the second half kicked off, it didn't seem we were going to have a different script. However, Azerbaijan's fortress wouldn't be breached before a capital moment that took place early in the second half, as the 55th minute was being played. Pepe was challenged in the air by Aliyev, and got elbowed on the back of his head by the Azerbaijan forward. The referee didn't hesitate and showed him the second yellow card, forcing the home side to play the rest of the match down to 10 men.

The Portuguese National Team players celebrating the win against Azerbaijan, in the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying stage

Against what most would expect though, the opening goal wouldn't come from any of the Portuguese midfielders or attackers, but rather from a defender. Just 8 minutes after the sending off, João Moutinho took a corner kick on the right and saw Bruno Alves rising in the air to score from an emphatic header, which finally put Portugal one goal up against Azerbaijan. This was Zenit's center defender second goal in the last 5 days and his 3rd on this qualifying stage, precisely one more than Cristiano Ronaldo's tally so far.

The second goal would arrive later in the game, with only 10 minutes left for the final whistle. Fábio Coentrão found space to go down the wing on the left, put in a perfectly timed cross to the far post and Hugo Almeida had no problem at all in heading it towards an empty net. All settled in Baku, as Portugal was about to pick the 3 points and keep the pressure on the group leaders Russia, who will now have to visit Portugal next June, for a decisive and titanic clash.

As for Ronaldo, he travelled with the team to Azerbaijan to give his moral support and play the captain's role, but he'll now head back to Madrid and start preparing the upcoming games for La Liga and the Champions League. The international duty will return on June 7, for that thrilling game between Portugal and Russia that may very well decide who secures a direct ticket to Brazil's 2014 World Cup.

Danny playing for the Portuguese National Team, in 2013

Portugal line-up vs Azerbaijan:

Goalkeeper: Rui Patrício
Defenders: Fábio Coentrão, Pepe, Bruno Alves, João Pereira
Midfielders: Miguel Veloso, Raúl Meireles, João Moutinho
Attackers: Danny, Vieirinha and Hélder Postiga

Match stats provided by
Shots on goal
Corner kicks
Fouls commited
Yellow cards
Red cards
Ball possession

Cristiano Ronaldo next game for Real Madrid will be against Real Zaragoza, on March 30, 2013, for La Liga. You can watch Juventus live stream, Zaragoza vs Real Madrid, Celta Vigo vs Barcelona, Sunderland vs Manchester United and Arsenal vs Reading, all matches provided from our football live soccer section.

Real Madrid next game:
Zaragoza vs Real Madrid
kick-off time (30-03-2013):

Jakarta (Indonesia) | GMT+7: 02:00
(Madrid) | GMT+1: 20:00
Portugal and England (Lisbon/London) | GMT+0: 19:00
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) | GMT-3: 16:00
New York (United States) | GMT-4: 15:00
Los Angeles (United States) | GMT-7: 12:00
Beijing (China) | GMT+8: 03:00

Sources: / / /

Hugo Almeida thanking God for his goal for the Portuguese National Team, in 2013-2014

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