Luxembourg 0-6 Portugal: 5 talking points as Cristiano Ronaldo double guides Selecao to another big win | UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers
Portugal continued their winning start to the Euro 2024 qualifiers with a 6-0 drubbing of Luxembourg on Sunday (March 26).
A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, coupled with goals from Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Otavio and Rafael Leao, gave new manager Roberto Martinez his second win in as many games.
Having started their campaign with a 4-0 defeat of Liechtenstein, the Selecao continued in the same vein, needing only eight minutes to break the deadlock. Ronaldo fired the visitors in front with a lovely finish from close range before Felix doubled their advantage with a fine header. Silva made it 3-0 shortly after with another wonderful headed goal beforeRonaldo added a fourth after just 31 minutes on the clock.
Portugal took their feet off the pedal after the break but added two more as Otavio and Leao, just after missing a penalty, scored to make it 6-0. The Euro 2016 champions are going strong in Group J, with six points in two games, as the Roberto Martinez era is off to a flyer.
On that note, here are five talking points from the game:
#5 Rafael Leao makes crazy cameo
Portuguese winger Rafael Leao hadn't really shone for his national team in the way he has for his club side AC Milan. However, that changed at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where he struck twice.
The 23-year-old has continued in the same vein, producing an insane cameo against Luxembourg, featuring an assist, a goal and a missed penalty. His major contribution on the night was setting up Otavio with a looping cross before he missed a penalty late on with a poor attempt. However, he made up for that with a late strike.
Ruben Neves released him on the left. The Milan forward tip-toed his way through the Luxembourg defence before firing a low drive into the bottom left corner for Portugal's sixth of the night.
Despite the missed penalty, it was a good performance from Leao, who showcased his prowess. He's certainly going to play a big role for the Selecao in the future.
#4 The curious case of Goncalo Ramos
Goncalo Ramos is one of the best young players in Portugal's national team. He netted four goals in five appearances last year, including a sensational hat-trick against Switzerland in the Round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
However, Martinez didn't start him in either game this month, with the forward seeing only 12 minutes of action against Liechtenstein and another 25 in Luxembourg.
While it's true that the Spanish manager is spoilt for choice in attack and has started the 38-year-old Ronaldo in both games, Ramos is just too good to warm the bench.
A striker by trade, Ramos' finishing skills are devastating, and as we saw at the Qatar showpiece last year, so are his movements in attacking areas. He has the potential to become the next big thing for the Selecao and could lead the line for them in the post-Ronaldo era.
However, for the Benfica star to live up to that, he needs to play more frequently, else risk wasting his talents like Andre Silva, the RB Leipzig star who failed to translate his blistering club form with Portugal.
#3 Luxembourg capitulate in first half
Luxembourg came into the game after an encouraging performance in their opening game against Slovakia, holding them to a goalless draw.
Given their home advantage, the Red Lions thought of frustrating the mighty Selecao too, but the visitors tore the script apart with a clinical display. The hosts found themselves 4-0 down inside 31 minutes. Two of those goals were headers as Luxembourg's defence left acres of space for the Euro 2016 champions to exploit.
Their man-marking was poor, with the likes of Ronaldo, Felix and Silva running in and around the penalty box unchallenged. Aerially, too, the hosts were no match for Portugal, with Felix and Silva comfortably placing their headers into the back of the net.
From starting their campaign with a clean sheet to conceding four times in 31 minutes, Luxembourg capitulated spectacularly.
#2 Portugal captain Ronaldo knows no stopping
After netting twice on Thursday (March 23) in his first appearance for Portugal since a disappointing 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign, Ronaldo backed it up with another brace.
This time he didn't have to wait for long, breaking the deadlock in the eighth minute with a lovely finish from close range. Just past the half-hour mark, the Al-Nassr star scored his second of the night with another cool finish to make it 122 international goals.
Even at 38, Ronaldo continues to be such an influential figure for Portugal as he aims for more records and milestones with the national team.
#1 Roberto Martinez era off to blistering start
There was plenty of scepticism when Roberto Martinez was unveiled as the new Portugal manager, given his chequered record with Belgium at major international tournaments. Just two games in, though, the Spaniard has made a strong first impression.
The Selecao have struck ten times, albeit against modest opposition. Captain Ronaldo is seemingly back to his best following a disappointing 2022 World Cup campaign, where he netted just once in five games.
Sure, it was only Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, but Martinez's side have played with utter dominance and looked fluid in their movements, especially against the latter. If this is a sign of things to come, Portugal fams could be in for a treat.
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