Portugal coast into Euro 2024 last-16 with 3-0 victory over Turkey

DORTMUND   -   Bernardo Silva’s first goal at a major tournament, a calamitous own goal from Samet Akaydin and a Bruno Fernandes tap-in gave Portugal a comfortable 3-0 win over Turkey on Saturday to guarantee qualification for the last 16 as Group F winners. Silva gave Portugal the lead in the 21st minute, rifling home after Nuno Mendes’ cross deflected kindly into his path before Akaydin failed to look and passed the ball beyond onrushing goalkeeper Altay Bayindir seven minutes later. Fernandes effectively ended the contest after 56 minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo who could have become the oldest goalscorer in European Championship history selflessly passed to his former Manchester United teammate to tap home. The victory secures Portugal’s progress while Turkey must avoid defeat on Wednesday to the Czech Republic, who drew 1-1 with Georgia earlier on Saturday, to be certain of qualifying for the knockout rounds.”In general, I don’t think we played a bad game,” Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella told Turkish TV. “We were closer to scoring a goal in the first 20 minutes. Against these types of opponents, if you don’t find a goal in the first minutes everything becomes harder.” Portugal started sharply and were unfazed by the deafening whistles from Turkey’s supporters when in possession, with Ronaldo drawing an easy save from Bayindir inside two minutes. Turkey who had lost all three of their previous European Championship games against Portugal without scoring set up more defensively after they gave up multiple chances to tournament debutants Georgia in their opening match. They nonetheless often played out from the back and the gamble almost paid off after 20 minutes, but 41-year-old defender Pepe’s last-man challenge stopped Orkun Kokcu from breaking clear.Portugal scored shortly after through a quick break down the left, when Mendes played a dangerous ball across goal which Silva turned home for his first major tournament goal in his 15th game at either the World Cup or European Championship. A defensive mix-up doubled their lead when Bayindir, who was in the side for Mert Gunok, wandered out of his goal to collect a misplaced pass from Joao Cancelo towards Ronaldo. But, as Ronaldo and Cancelo remonstrated, Akaydin played a no-look backpass which rolled past Bayindir in slow motion and evaded Zeki Celik’s desperate slide to cross the line. Kerem Akturkoglu forced a great save from Diogo Costa almost immediately after, but Turkey otherwise created precious few chances. The second half started in subdued fashion before substitute Ruben Neves played a long pass over the top, which fell to Ronaldo who had the goal at his mercy. Portugal’s captain instead laid the ball on a plate for Fernandes to score the simplest of goals, giving Ronaldo the most European Championship assists to go with his records for goals and appearances in the tournament.Portugal boss Roberto Martinez described Ronaldo’s decision to provide an assist rather than go for goal himself as “a pure moment of Portugese football”. ”That’s an example that should be shown in every academy,” he added.

The game petered out even after Turkey boss Vincenzo Montella introduced teenage star Arda Guler, who had scored the decisive goal in Turkey’s opening game but started on the bench due to concerns over his fitness.Turkey pressed late on for a goal that would not have changed the result but would have improved their goal difference, which could prove crucial if they lose to the Czech Republic and need to qualify from third place.

But the end of the match was marred by several pitch invaders, all of whom made a beeline for a selfie with Ronaldo -- who appeared to pose for a picture with the first, but became increasingly frustrated with stoppages to the game.

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