Braga: Portugal rallied in the second period and put in a commanding performance as Paulo Bento’s men defeated Azerbaijan 3-0 in their World Cup 2014 qualifier at Estadio AXA on Tuesday evening.
The home side sprayed the Azerbaijan goal with an astounding 33 shots on goal in the match, but the visitors somehow managed to withstand the barrage in the first half. However, Portugal found the net three times in the second half with goals from Silvestre Varela, Helder Postiga, and Bruno Alves.
The hosts had a number of early shots on goal, but Kamran Arhayev in the Azerbaijan goal and his defenders bravely blocked and defended for the majority of the first half. Cristiano Ronaldo looked destined to open the scoring the 15th minute when he received the ball just six yards out inside the area, but Rahid Amirguliev was there to make a terrific block and turn the ball out for a corner.
Joao Moutinho and Raul Mereiles both attempted long-range shots from just outside the area around the 20th minute mark but both saw their efforts clear the Azerbaijan crossbar.
Portugal should have taken the lead one minute into first-half injury-time when he found space six yards out and struck at goal, only to see his attempt agonisingly clip the post.
The second half started in the same vein, and an array of Portugal efforts eventually lead to the opening goal.
In the 63rd minute, Varela got himself into an excellent position on the right-hand side of the six-yard box and drilled a shot past Arhayev at his near post.
The next 20 minutes passed with total domination from the home side. Portugal doubled their lead in the 83rd minute when Postiga drifted into the centre of the box and slotted a shot into the right corner from on the penalty spot.
It took just three minutes for Paulo Bento’s side to seal the points with a third goal. Moutinho whipped in an outswinging corner kick and Alves was there at the back post to bullet a header past Arhayev.
Portugal now find themselves healthily placed joint-top of Group F alongside Russia with maximum points taken from their opening two matches.
Azerbaijan are fifth after Tuesday night result and have accumulated one point so far, thanks to a draw against Israel on Saturday.
First Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 08:55