Bruno Fernandes was on target twice as he led Portugal to a thrilling 4-0 thrashing against giants of Africa Nigeria in a friendly.
Portugal, who is participating in their sixth consecutive World Cup, has been placed in Group H along with Ghana, South Korea, and Uruguay. In precisely seven days, when they are expected to take on the Ghanaians at Stadium 974, they decided to use the Super Eagles of Nigeria to prepare.
The Portuguese have had three dismal World Cup campaigns since reaching the semi-finals in 2006: last-16 exits in 2010 and 2018, and group-stage elimination eight years ago.
Cristiano Ronaldo and company will play Ghana on November 24, then Uruguay four days later, before closing their group stage against South Korea on December 2.
You may recall that Portugal was eliminated by Uruguay four years ago in Russia. In the round of 16, Edinson Cavani’s double eliminated the reigning European champions.
Speaking of Ronaldo, Portugal reports that he has gastroenteritis and was not in action against Nigeria on Thursday night.
You probably already know that Ronaldo gave Piers Morgan some less than flattering remarks about Manchester United and Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils’ head coach.
It must be admitted that Portugal’s recent performance has been everything but stellar. In their most recent match, Spain defeated Fernando Santos’ team, propelling the Spanish into the Nations League finals at the cost of Portugal thanks to a late goal from lvaro Morata.
Portugal has suffered two losses in the last three games, including a 1-0 loss to Switzerland in the Nations League in June.
Recent outcomes in Nigeria haven’t been great either. The Super Eagles, who were denied a spot in the World Cup after losing to Ghana in a playoff in March, have lost three of their previous four matches across all competitions.
The Nigerians most recently lost friendly matches against Costa Rica this month and Algeria in September.
Nigeria fell against Los Ticos in their fifth straight Friendlies, marking their 12th successive match without a victory.
The most recent occasion Nigeria won a match of high quality was in March 2019, in a 1-0 victory over Egypt.
Talking about the friendly game between Nigeria and Portugal, in the second minute of the game, Nigeria got a corner that Simon promptly took. Ndidi, who played it out to Lookman’s right, had it worked inside.
He attempted a sidefoot cross for the first time into the Portugal box, but the home team cleared the ball.
Nigeria, which missed qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 2006, was defeated in just nine minutes.
An excellent ball from Joao Felix was raced on by two of Ronaldo’s Manchester United teammates, with Diogo Dalot setting up Bruno Fernandes to finish.
Atletico Madrid’s Felix, who is frequently benched, was in excellent form to make sure Ronaldo was not missed, and Fernandes took over the captain’s penalty duties to score his second goal before halftime.
Earlier in the week, a tense altercation between Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes in the locker room made headlines, but it was the midfielder who stepped forward to command attention against Nigeria.
Just before the halftime, Fernandes missed an excellent opportunity to clinch a hat-trick in the first half as he shot wide.
Ronaldo, who established a record for appearances for his nation and holds the record for most goals scored by a man in men’s international competition with 191, will be back for Portugal’s World Cup opener against Ghana on November 24, but the team won over fans without him before they left for Qatar.
After a Dalot shove just inside the area was called for a penalty in the 81st minute, Nigeria had a chance to tie the game again, but Rui Patricio saved Emmanuel Dennis’ penalty.
A minute later, Goncalo Ramos of Benfica and Portugal’s debutant Raphael Guerreiro added a third goal by tapping in from the latter’s selfless cutback.
After a beautiful move involving Felix once more and a deft touch from Ramos, Joao Mario tucked away the fourth goal. This terrific, dynamic attacking performance was the ideal response to complaints that Santos’ football was bad.
It was also a means of muting the commotion about Ronaldo, though that rarely works for long as the seasoned forward heals and gets ready to compete in his sixth World Cup.
Fans however, where unhappy with the results especially the Nigeria fans – wondering how terrible it would have been for the team if the country had qualified for Qatar 2022.
Here are some reactions from Nigerians:
FT: Portugal 4-0 Nigeria— POOJA!!! (@PoojaMedia) November 17, 2022
A very underwhelming from the Super Eagles as Portugal smashed them 4-0.
A total disgrace 😭 pic.twitter.com/VFX16OfbXG
Super Eagles proved again & again, they don’t deserve to be at Qatar World Cup.— NEFERTITI (@firstladyship) November 17, 2022
4-nil defeat to Portugal is a huge disgrace. Nigeria is far better than that. 🤦♀️😞
I woke up happy to think that 4-0 we collected from Portugal was a dream. Only for me to come to Twitter & confirm it really happened. If I don’t get bantered by Chelsea PL rivals, the Super Eagles will hand me over to Ghanaians.— Frank Edoho (@frankedoho) November 18, 2022
Life is tough if you are a Nigerian Chelsea fan.
I'm still wondering why a personality like Finidi George will stoop so low to beg Pepe for his jersey after the Super Eagles lost embarrassingly to Portugal 4-0, and even became visibly angry when the Portuguese rather gave the jersey to Moses Simon. Small pride is important! pic.twitter.com/8kNV47iHID— Bassey Ibiatisuho (@realbassey101) November 18, 2022
Finidi George shamelessly begging for Pepe’s shirt is so embarrassing to watch. pic.twitter.com/4jvGc7F9C7— Tunde Ednut (@TundeEdnut_) November 17, 2022