Azerbaijan 0-3 Portugal: 5 Talking points as Portugal wrap up the international break with routine win | FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers

Portugal recorded a second win in a row in their World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan
Portugal recorded a second win in a row in their World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan

Portugal made quick work of Azerbaijan, beating the hosts 3-0 in the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group stage fixture at Baku Olympic Stadium.

Goals from Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva and Diogo Jota ensured that Fernando Santos' men earned a favourable result in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. He left the national team to train with his new club Manchester United over the weekend.

The men's all-time top goalscorer was suspended for the game after picking up a yellow card. He was booked for removing his shirt as he celebrated his second goal in the 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland.

It was a very routine outing for the 2016 EURO winners as they dominated possession. They also had five times more shooting chances than the hosts and did not concede a single shot on target.

Portugal looked sharp from the get-go and created a couple of chances early on but the decisive ball into the final third was missing. They then scored two goals in quick succession as Bernardo Silva produced a remarkable first-time finish from Bruno Fernandes' cross in the 26th minute. Just five minutes later, Andre Silva scored from close range.

Azerbaijan rarely provided any threat in the final third and even when they found themselves in good positions, their shooting was just wayward.

Portugal continued to be the dominant side in the game and their persistence paid off nicely. Diogo Jota also found the back of the net in the 75th minute to put the game's outcome beyond doubt.

With this win, Portugal went atop the Group A standings but automatic qualification is still not guaranteed. Here, we take a look at the five talking points from the game.


#5 Premier League trio impress in Portugal's win

Diogo Jota was on the scoresheet tonight
Diogo Jota was on the scoresheet tonight

Portugal signed off for the international break in September with an easy 3-0 win. And three Premier League stars stood out with their impressive attacking performances.

Manchester City's Bernardo Silva scored one of the best goals of the qualifying campaign, assisted by Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes. He again had a role in setting up the second goal as his long ball was misjudged by Liverpool forward Jota. The ball, eventually, fell kindly for Andre Silva.

Jota would finally get his goal in the second half and hence, a Premier League player was involved in all three goals for Portugal tonight. City's Joao Cancelo also impressed with his attacking contribution and picked up an assist to cap off a good display.


#4 Azerbaijan fail to score against Portugal yet again

Azerbaijan are winless in their five World Cup qualifying games so far
Azerbaijan are winless in their five World Cup qualifying games so far

Azerbaijan had failed to score against Portugal when they travelled to Allianz Stadium in March. The Portuguese team won 1-0 back then. They have managed to score in every qualifying game since but came up short against A Seleção again.

Historically, Azerbaijan have struggled against the Iberian giants and in their eight meetings across all competitions, have managed to score just once. That goal came all the way back in 1999, in the EURO 2000 qualifiers. They managed to draw 1-1 in that match.


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#3 Portugal extend unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers to 14 games

Portugal have won four of their five World Cup qualifying games this season
Portugal have won four of their five World Cup qualifying games this season

Portugal are having a great World Cup qualifying campaign thus far. The comfortable win over Azerbaijan was their fourth out of five games played. A 2-2 draw against Serbia in March was the only game in which they had dropped points.

Interestingly, they have fared quite well in qualifying campaigns before as well. Considering their record in the previous campaign as well, their unbeaten run stretches to 14 games, of which they have won 13.

Well, the quality of opponents they face in the qualifying round is definitely on the lower side. But still, a record of having scored 43 goals and conceding just six is appreciable.


#2 No Cristiano Ronaldo no problem for the highly talented Portugal squad

Ronaldo was suspended for the game against Azerbaijan
Ronaldo was suspended for the game against Azerbaijan

Portugal recorded a 3-0 win over Azerbaijan without even breaking a sweat. This was thanks to a wealth of talent in the final third in Fernando Santos' squad. Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota had a great outing and were a joy to watch.

Fernandes was the creator and stayed behind deep to thread in the passes. While Bernardo Silva cut in from the flanks to cause all sorts of problems for the Azerbaijan defenders. Andre Silva and Jota linked well inside the box and got a goal apiece to their name.

Ronaldo helped with a brace in the 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland. But Jota is currently Portugal's top scorer in the World Cup qualifying campaign with four goals.


#1 Bruno Fernades produces a remarkable performance in the middle of the pitch

Bruno Fernandes provided the assist for Portugal's opening goal
Bruno Fernandes provided the assist for Portugal's opening goal

Bruno Fernandes has been in impressive form for club and country for the last couple of seasons. For Manchester United, he is yet to lose an away game and is probably the best player in the Portugal squad, second only to Cristiano Ronaldo.

He was the creative force behind Portugal's easy win here and created five key passes, more than anyone else on the pitch. Almost everything on the pitch passed through him and his crosses and through balls were key to Portugal's attack.

His assist for Silva's opener was his first assist of the 2021-22 campaign for club and country.


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Edited by Aditya Singh
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