Portugal 3-0 Hungary: Simao Double Sends Hosts Into Second Place
The Portuguese are back from the dead, and almost certain to enter the play-offs.
Portugal were given a boost almost immediately after kick-off, with the news that Denmark had beaten Sweden, meaning that the hosts could climb to second with a win. However, it was the visitors who had the first chance, when Zoltan Gera cut in from the left, only to see his shot saved by Eduardo.
The Hungarians were causing plenty of problems, but it was Portugal who broke the deadlock on 17 minutes. Gabor Babos could only parry Ronaldo’s drive across the box from the left, and Simao was on hand to slot home. He nearly doubled his tally minutes later, but was denied by the keeper after being released down the right.
Portugal looked set to score again, but the night took a turn for the worse when Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off the pitch due to his ankle injury just before the half hour, to be replaced by Nani. The home team immediately lost some of their threat, and Hungary came close to equalising when Balazs Dzsudzsak cut inside from the right and fired just wide.
Both sides had chances to score just before the break, with Ricardo Carvalho’s header flying wide, before Roland Juhasz nodded onto the bar, after Eduardo had missed a cross.
The host came out for the second half desperate to increase their lead, and they nearly did so when Liedson missed Simao’s cross by a few millimetres. Just after the hour mark, Raul Meireles was set up by Nani, but he could only shoot tamely at the keeper.
The Manchester United winger was growing in confidence, but so was Babos. After parrying Nani’s shot, he recovered quickly to save Simao’s goal-bound effort. However, despite his efforts, Portugal did increase their lead on 74 minutes, when Liedson’s diving header from Bruno Alves’ cross just cleared the line before Babos could claw it out.
Hungary were deflated, and the night got worse for them on 80 minutes, as Simao unleashed a stunning volley following Duda’s cross from the left, leaving Babos with no chance.
Thus Portugal catapulted into second place, and with a game against Malta to come, they have surely done enough to seal a play-off spot.