It was a great night for the debutants as Pedro Neto and Paulinho scored three of Portugal’s seven goals in a confident performance against Andorra, in a friendly which also saw Domingos Duarte make his debut.
Renato Sanches, Cristiano Ronaldo, João Félix and a goal against his Andorra side completed the score at the Estádio da Luz.
While the need to play friendly international matches amid a global pandemic may be debated, this match gave Fernando Santos a great opportunity to use his team’s depth ahead of Portugal’s UEFA Nations League game. against France on Saturday. Santos made his debut with three players: Domingos Duarte, Paulinho and Pedro Neto. Wins against Andorra are generally routine for Portugal, with the visiting team having lost all five of their matches against Seleção – conceding 22 goals in the process.
It didn’t take long for one of the newbies to make his mark in the game. After just eight minutes, Nélson Semedo’s cross from the right finally found his way to Pedro Neto to finish flat out at close range. The Wolves player had become the first player born after 2000 to play – and score – for the national team.
Portugal dominated the entire first half and got a second thanks to another debutant. Nélson Semedo’s shot caused defense problems again for Andorra, this time a low ball that Paulinho sent coldly after 28 minutes into the game. Nélson Semedo nearly scored another goal immediately after, but Renato Sanches blew a good chance at the over the bar up close.
Andorra was not too disappointed at half-time with a score of only 2-0. However, the entry of Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo for Sérgio Oliveira and Pedro Neto would not have been a welcome sight. Hearts were in their mouths for Portugal when Ronaldo awkwardly landed after one of his typically gigantic jumps while trying to meet a cross right after his introduction, but the forward was able to keep going.
Ronaldo’s first significant involvement was giving Renato Sanches a goal to put Portugal 3-0 after 56 minutes. The Lille midfielder scoring his first goal in Portugal since his memorable strike against Poland at Euro 2016 and put together his effort well.
Paulinho added to his tally five minutes later when he met Mário Rui’s cross with a thunderous header for Portugal’s fourth. The Braga man was unable to complete his hat-trick as he was quickly replaced by João Félix, while compatriot Renato Sanches was replaced by William Carvalho. The Betis midfielder had the ball in the net shortly after his introduction but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Cristiano Ronaldo was desperate for a goal from the moment he stepped onto the pitch. He nearly scored Portugal’s fifth of the night in the 75th minute, but Bernardo Silva’s low pass was deflected into the goal by Andorran defender Emili García before Ronaldo could touch. Ronaldo got even closer when Danilo gave a nice pass into the zone, but the striker’s contact let him down.
It was 85 minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo finally got the goal he was on a mission for, passing Josep Gomes from near the center of Mário Rui. João Félix added a seventh goal two minutes later when Bernardo Silva’s cross was directed by William Carvalho for Atlético Madrid to finish. Andorran goalkeeper Gomes was needed to prevent Felix from having another one just before the end.
In the end, it was a comfortable evening for Fernando Santos’ team. Paulinho and Pedro Neto will be delighted to have marked their debut with goals, while Domingos Duarte was relatively untested at the back. While the game didn’t teach us much about how Portugal will line up against France this weekend, the comfortable victory will surely have helped boost La Seleção’s confidence.
by Richard Cole
Portugal XI: Anthony Lopes; Nélson Semedo, Rúben Semedo, Domingos Duarte, Mário Rui; Sérgio Oliveira (Bernardo Silva, 46 ‘), João Moutinho (Danilo Pereira, 74’), Renato Sanches (William Carvalho, 63 ‘); Francisco Trincão (Diogo Jota, 74 ‘), Paulinho (João Félix, 63 ′), Pedro Neto (Cristiano Ronaldo, 46’)
Andorra XI: Josep Gomes; Jordi Rubio, Marc Rebés (Albert Alavedra, 59 ‘), Emili Garcia, Adri Rodrigues, Marc Garcia (Moisés San Nicolás, 46’); Kiki Martínez (Ludovic Clemente, 69 ‘), Marc Pujol (Sergi Moreno, 80’), Joan Cervós (Alex Martínez, 69 ‘); Márcio Vieira (Jordi Aláez, 59 ‘), Aarón Sánchez
[1-0] Pedro Neto, 8 pi
[2-0] Paulinho, 28 years
[3-0] Renato Sanches, 56 ‘
[4-0] Paulinho, 61 ‘
[5-0] ‘Emili García (OG), 76’
[6-0] Cristiano Ronaldo, 85 ‘
[7-0] João Félix, 87 ‘