Welcome to Sportstar's highlights of tonight's world cup qualifier between Portugal and North Macedonia, being played at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal.
This was Neeladri Bhattacharjee bringing you the pre-match buildup and minute-by-minute updates of this match. That was all for the night. Thanks for tuning in and take very good care of yourselves.
Portugal 2-0 North Macedonia
90' Portugal tries to attack on the break, with Ronaldo passing to Felix, who goes down after some contact by Alioski, but the referee is not interested as Moutinho is reoplaces by Vitinho, who makes his international debut
88' Substitution for both sides!
For Portugal, Felix and Nunes replace Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes, while Boban Nikolov replaces Elmas for North Macedonia
86' Ronaldo gets the ball in the penalty box, but all spaces around him are blocked by three North Macedonia defenders surround him
85' Leao gets the ball, carries the ball into the final third, passes it to Ronaldo through Carvalho, ubt eventually North Macedonia thwarts the attack. Portugal repossess the ball and tries to go on the counter -- is blocked by the white wall
82' Save! A cross from the left for Ronaldo, who just misses to connect his head to the ball and Dimitrievski fists the ball out of danger
79' Chance! Bruno Fernandes gets the ball form the right off a long ball, hares down the left wing and crosses to Cristiano Ronaldo, who is intercepted at the very last moment, with a slight delay there would have been a certain goal
76' Substitution for North Macedonia! In: Stefan Askovski, Out: Tihomir Kostadinov
76' Double Substitution for Portugal! In: William Carvalho, Rafael Leao, Out: Otavio, Diogo Jota
75' Bruno takes the free kick, which is headed away by Musliu and eventually both sides get their substitutions ready
73' Another yellow card! Otavio makes a run along the right wing, but Alioski pushed him down to get the third booking of the match and Portugal gets a free kick from a socieng position close to the penalty box
68' Scuffle! North Macedonian and Portuguese players get into a scuffle with the referee intervening and resolving the matter, with two bookings, one on either side. Joao Cancelo is booked for Portugal, while Visar Musliu gets a yellow card for North Macedonia
65' GOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!! Bruno Fernandes receives a brilliant long ball in the opposition penalty box by Jota and he hits on the volley to double the lead for Portugal
Portugal 2-0 North Macedonia
60' Substitution for North Macedonia! In: Darko Churlinov , Out: Aleksandr Trajkovski
59' Chance! Another corner for Portugal, another corner by Bruno, and this time his corner kick is headed by Ronaldo, but the ball flies miles over the goal
57' Corner kick for Portugal! Bruno takes the corner kick, which is headed out and then Bruno gets it back off a cros on the right, but then his corss goes out for another corner kick.
56' Fouls flying at the moment with Bernardo bringing down Elmas first and then Bardhi brings down Pepe
54' Foul! North Macedonia gets a free kick from a scoring position and the free kick is headed away by Pepe
53' Nuno Mendes runs along the left chennel, tries to fins=d Bruno in the final third, but is intercepted by the North Macedonian defence
51' Bruno and Ronaldo link up again in the final third as the crowd in Porto increases its cheers, but North Macedonia forces the pair away form the box for the moment
49' North Macedonia is playing a 4-4-1-1 shape at the moment, with Portugal trying to punch hole sin that white wall that is desperate to not concede further at the moment and Nuno Mendes makes a run along the left, but his shot is way off target
47' North Macedonia has made one half-time substitution in the form of Bojan Miovski, who has replaces forward Milan Ristovski
Second Half begins!
Portugal 1-0 North Macedonia
45+1' Ronaldo goes down appealing for a foul, but Anthony Taylor has known Ronaldo and his antiques for long enough as no foul or stoppage in play rewarded
42' Pepe and Danilo keepin the back in check, with Trajkovski locked down by two red shirts along the left flank
37' Foul! Portugal has strated pressing high now, with Jota conceding a foul at the edge of the North Macedonia box and as the side in white tries to go on attack, Pepe goes down for a Portugal free kick to put North Macedonia's this attack to bed
32' GOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!! Ronaldo gets the ball in the final third passes the ball to Bruno who finishes in style to put Portugal in front
Portugal 1-0 North Macedonia
31' The match is back in action as Danilo and Pepe try to switch the attack and build from the back
29' Nuno Mendes wreathes in pain as Kostadinov goes for the ball, almost throwing Nuno away and Portugese players appeal for a card. Taylor is not interested so far
27' Portugal tries a creative set-piece, with the ball played back into the midfield and Moutinho crossing for Pepe, who is ruled off side and that attack is put to bed
26' Otavio and Cancelo pair up alongthe right wing as Bruno makes a run into the box, but his run is marked well as Portugal gets another corner kick
24' Chance! Bruno Fernandes takes the free kick, which is headed in by Jota, but the ball bounces off target
23' Diogo Jota makes a forward run, with Otavio feeding the a lofted pass to the Liverpool man as North Macedonia tracks back on time to concede a corner kick
20' Ristovski carries the ball along the right wing, crosses fot Alioski, who tries to hit on the volley like Zinedine Zidane off a Roberto Carlos cross, but the shot is off target
19' Foul! Bruno Fernandes tries to get to the ball, but takes down Elmas in the follow through for a free kick, which sees the ball being palyed back to Dimitrievski for a back pass
16' Two successive corners for North Macedonia, with the second one headed out by Bernardo Silva and then Portugal concedes another free kick for a potential set-piece attempt. Bardhi takes the free kick, which is caught comfortably by Costa
14' Miss! Ronaldo makes a run to the centre of the box, hits with his left foot, but this time fails to find the target.
13' Chance! Cancelo carries the ball along the right wing and crosses for Bruno, whose header is off target!
12' North Macedonian players greeted with whistles and jeers as they try to build an attack with small passes, and Portugal gets the ball back and Costa gets the ball off a back paas to kick the ball back into play
10' Foul! Jota tries to make a run getting the ball from the midfield, but he is pulled down with the Liverpool man appealing for a card for that tackle. the referee, Anthony Taylor, replies with just a grin
8' Bruno Fernandes gets the ball from the right, close to the North Macedonia box, but he is shut down with a strong tackle by the defdence as he fails to launch a shot
6' Chance! Bernardo Silva and Nuno Mendes pair up, with the PSG man crossing from the left. Bruno makes a run to the near post with Ronaldo covering him at the far, but neither gets to it on time
5' North Macedonia is pressing high, with the match so far dominating in the half of Portugal, but it should be cautious of the host's counter attacking ability with Cristiano Ronaldo along the wings
3' Foul! Bernardo Silva makes a rash challenge on a North Macedonian player and the white shirts demand a booking. The referee, after a word with Silva, lets him off with a verbal warning
2' The Portugal coach has made three changes, all in defence and North Macedonia's first attacking run inthwarted by Danilo in his teams penalty box
12:15 am: Kick off!
Portugal starts in its home kit of green-and-red, while North Macedonia starts in white. Let the battle for Qatar begin!
12:13 am: The players are done with the National Anthems of their respective countries as the players take their positions. It is now or never for both. The winner takes it all!
12:00 am: 15 Minutes to Kick-off!
The players are out warming up for the decider for a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Portugal starts with a 4-3-3 formation with Cristiano Ronaldo on the right and Jota heading the attack, while North Macedonia has decided to go with a 4-4-2 formation, with Ristovski and Konstandinov leading its attack.
11:45 pm: Portugal should not underestimate North Macedonia!
This fixture will be the first competitive fixture between the two sides, but Portugal will need to be cautious of a team that has stunned two World Champions in its run-up to the playoffs. In the group stage, it beat the 2014 World Cup Winner Germany and in the play offs, it knocked out 2006 World Cup Winner, Italy.
11:30 pm: HEAD-TO-HEAD: The two sides last met in 2012 and the match ended as a goalless draw. This time, though, a definite result will be a must and in case regulation plus extra time cannot determine that, it will go into a penalty shootout.
11:10 pm: Starting Lineups are out!
Portugal Starting XI: Diogo Costa, Nuno Mendes, Pepe, Danilo, Cancelo, Otavio, Moutinho, Fernandes, Bernardo, Jota, Ronaldo
North Macedonia Starting XI : Dimitrievski, Ristovski, Musliu, Velkovski, Alioski, Elmas, Bardhi, Ademi, Trajkovski, Ristovski, Kostadinov
With a spot on the line for what could be his fifth and final World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo needs to avoid an upset like the one that ended Italy’s hopes of making it to the tournament in Qatar.
Portugal faces a winner-takes-all game on Tuesday against North Macedonia, the team that shocked Italy last week to keep the four-time champion out of the World Cup for the second straight time.
“We were surprised,” Ronaldo said Monday. “North Macedonia has surprised in many matches. But I don’t think they will surprise us tomorrow. Portugal will play better and we will make it to the World Cup.”
Portugal is trying to reach its sixth straight World Cup, and Ronaldo is hoping to play in his 10th consecutive major tournament after appearing in four World Cups and five European Championships since 2004.
“We know that if we win we will go to the World Cup and if we lose we are out,” he said. “We have the responsibility to be positive and win the match. I see everyone well prepared and wanting to be at their best tomorrow.”
Ronaldo is the only player to have scored at least once in the finals of nine top tournaments in a row.
The highest scorer in men’s international football, Ronaldo would be 41 by the time of the next World Cup if Portugal doesn’t qualify to play this year in Qatar.
The Manchester United forward didn’t want to talk about the possibility of a World Cup without him.
“There is no World Cup without Portugal,” Ronaldo said. “There are no individualities here.”
Ronaldo said he is starting to hear repeated questions about his future and made it clear he is the only one who can make a decision on that.
“If I feel like playing, I will keep playing,” he said. “If I don’t, I won’t.”
Portugal advanced to the game against North Macedonia by beating Turkey 3-1 in Porto on Thursday, when the visitor squandered an 85th-minute penalty kick that could have erased a two-goal lead from the first half. The Portuguese added their third goal in injury time.
Portugal had been forced into the playoffs after conceding late and relinquishing a lead last year in the final group game against Serbia.
North Macedonia, which gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, is trying to make it to the World Cup final for the first time. It made its first appearance in the European Championship last year.
Aleksandar Trajkovski’s surprising winner against Italy on Thursday came in the second minute of stoppage time in Palermo. North Macedonia had also beaten Germany a year ago in its European qualifying group, in which it finished second to the Germans.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos will have a more complete squad for the match at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto as defenders Pepe and João Cancelo are back after missing the game against Turkey. Pepe had tested positive for COVID-19, while Cancelo was suspended.
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