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15.10.2013 » Portugal 3-0 Luxembourg. Now it will all come down to the playoffs!

Nani celebrating his goal in Portugal vs Luxembourg

Portugal defeated Luxembourg by 3-0 this Tuesday afternoon in Coimbra, but the 3 points weren't enough to finish ahead of Russia and earn the much-wanted direct entrance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final stage. The Portuguese National Team finished 2nd and will now have to go through a decisive 2-leg playoff round, in order to know if they'll make it to Brazil's World Cup, scheduled for next summer.

A 3-0 win against Luxembourg made sure that the 2014 FIFA World Cup hopes for Portugal are still alive, but the confirmation ticket will now have to be earned on a dramatic 2-leg playoffs round, against an opponent that will only be known next Monday (October 21). Portugal finished Group F in 2nd place with 21 points, just one below Russia, who have won the group and with that, their direct entrance to Brazil's 2014 World Cup. With Cristiano Ronaldo unavailable for this Tuesday's game against Luxembourg after having been suspended for seeing a yellow card against Israel last week, it was up to Nani, Varela and Hélder Postiga to seal the deal and score the goals that delivered the victory to Portugal.

Portugal 3-0 Luxembourg goals and highlights video:

After the disappointing draw against Israel from last week, Portugal eagerly needed to rebound from that unexpected upset. On paper, Paulo Bento's men couldn't have asked for a better victim than Luxembourg, especially after knowing that the team's star player Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't going to be available to give his contribution on the pitch.

It probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone when we highlight that Portugal's attacking firepower is reduced to a small fraction part of its full potential every time Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't get to play for his home nation. Regardless of how much it may cost most of us to hear it, without Ronaldo on the roster this Portuguese team looks nothing better than an average side.

Portugal knew they needed to collect a clear win against Luxembourg to make peace with their own fans, but even with that in mind, the opener has only arrived after the visitors got forced to play with one man less on the pitch, around the 30th minute of the first half. AS Monaco midfielder João Moutinho found Silvestre Varela breaking into the back of Luxembourg defense, sent him a low pass and allowed the FC Porto winger to easily get past the defender marking him, as well as the goalkeeper. Varela then struck the ball into an empty net and Portugal had suddenly grabbed the lead of the game.

Silvestre Varela on his knees, during a game for Portugal in World Cup qualifiers

The 2-0 came on just 6 minutes later and it had on João Moutinho its main producer once again. The former Porto and Sporting CP midfielder pulled off a superb backheel assist to Nani already inside the penalty area and the Manchester United winger burried it with a strong left-foot finish. It was Nani's 14th goal for Portugal and his first of the season...

With only 10-men on the pitch since the 28th minute of the first half, one would expect that Portugal would keep pushing forward with intensity for the remaining of the game, especially since the only scenario on which it would still be possible to finish first in the group required a 7-goal margin win, at the same time Russia had to lose against Azerbaijan.

That's not how it went down though, as Portugal never managed to perform as it was supposed to and Luxembourg never really got put against the ropes. The final goal of the game took place near the 79th minute and just as it had happened in the previous goals, the assist was credited to João Moutinho. The 27-year old player earned an "assist hat-trick" this Tuesday afternoon, and this last one ended up allowing the Valencia CF forward Hélder Postiga to also put his name on the scoresheet.

Portugal will now have to wait for FIFA's playoffs draw, which will be held next Monday (October 21). These playoffs 2-leg ties will be played on November 15 and November 19 and Portugal's opponent name will come out from a shortlist of 4 teams, which is shown below:

Portugal's possible opponents for the 2014 FIFA World Cup playoffs:
- France
- Sweden
- Romania
- Iceland

Nani playing as the captain for Portugal, in 2013-2014

Portugal line-up vs Luxembourg:

Goalkeeper: Rui Patrício
Defenders: Fábio Coentrão, Neto, Ricardo Costa, André Almeida
Midfielders: Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Josué
Attackers: Nani, Varela, Hélder Postiga

Match stats provided by www.ronaldo7.net
Portugal
vs
Luxembourg
3
Goals
0
-
Shots
-
-
Shots on goal
-
-
Corner kicks
-
-
Fouls commited
-
-
Yellow cards
-
-
Red cards
-
-
Ball possession
-

Cristiano Ronaldo next game for Real Madrid will be for La Liga, next Saturday (October 19, 2013), against Malaga. You can watch Juventus live stream, Real Madrid vs Malaga, Newcastle vs Liverpool, Manchester United vs Southampton and Arsenal vs Norwich, all matches provided from our soccer live stream section.

Real Madrid next game:
Real Madrid vs Malaga
kick-off time (19-10-2013):

Jakarta (Indonesia) | GMT+7: 21:00
Spain
(Madrid) | GMT+2: 16:00
Portugal and England (Lisbon/London) | GMT+1: 15:00
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) | GMT-3: 11:00
New York (United States) | GMT-4: 10:00
Los Angeles (United States) | GMT-7: 07:00
Beijing (China) | GMT+8: 22:00

Sources: ronaldo7.net / philly.com

Hélder Postiga scoring a goal for Portugal, in World Cup qualifiers

Paulo Bento, Portugal National Team coach

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