Portugal vs Albania

Portugal’s erratic start in Group 1 continued as they failed to break down an Albania side reduced to ten men before half-time in Braga.

Teli dismissed
The home fans were wondering which Portugal would turn up after witnessing a 3-2 home defeat by Denmark in between a 4-0 rout of Malta and goalless draw in Sweden. Ervin Bulku might even have given the visitors the lead before Arie Haan’s team suffered a blow as Admir Teli received a second yellow card after a 42nd-minute clash with Cristiano Ronaldo. Danny and Hugo Almeida spurned the best of the hosts’ chances after the interval as they failed to win at home once again.

Organised defence
Portugal searched for the breakthrough from the first minute but had to negotiate supremely well-organised opponents. Carlos Queiroz’s charges explored all possible avenues to breach the defence, especially on the wings where Cristiano Ronaldo was always very active but also subject to special attention from the visitors. Midfielder Manuel Fernandes managed to find space on the right and drove a powerful left-footed shot just over on 18 minutes, yet that was as close as Portugal came in the opening half. By contrast, Albania could have scored ten minutes later when Klodian Duro’s cross found Bulku who almost converted.

Busy Beqaj
The second period began with Danny planting a great opportunity at the goalkeeper after a left-wing delivery from Paulo Ferreira left him free to beat Arian Beqaj. Then Miguel centred from the right and Hugo Almeida’s header forced a notable save from Beqaj. The Werder Bremen striker also headed against the post on 56 minutes with Beqaj grasping the rebound on the goalline. The result left Portugal with five points from four games – an identical record to that of Albania.