Euro 2020
Cristiano Ronaldo nets 99th Portugal goal | Picture: UEFA/Twitter

Defending champions Portugal survived a scare in the final matchday of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as they edged Luxembourg here on Sunday.

Portugal defeated Luxembourg 2-0 at the Stade Josy Barthel to secure automatic qualification from Group B behind Ukraine, who held Serbia in Belgrade.

Cristiano Ronaldo registered his 99th goal for Portugal late in the second half after Bruno Fernandes had given Portugal a 1-0 in the first half.

Luxembourg, on the other hand, did well to restrict the Euro 2016 champions as they pushed for a late equalizer, before Ronaldo’s strike shattered their hopes for a historic result.

In the first half, Luxembourg failed to get out of their box as Portugal pressed high up the field.

But with the half-time whistle approaching, Portugal finally got their reward, Bruno Fernandes scoring in the 39th minute.

Bernardo Silva’s chipped through-ball found Fernandes, who’s low strike went inside the bottom right corner.

After the break, Luxembourg enjoyed much of the possession, lacking composure in front of goal.

As Luc Holtz’s men pushed for a late equalizer, Portugal doubled their lead to put the game in bed.

Bernardo Silva, once again, causing all sorts of problems as his looping ball found Diogo Jota, whose attempted shot almost found the back of the net, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to bundle home, virtually from the line.

With this strike, Ronaldo took his goal-tally for Portugal to 99, nine away from leveling and 10 away from superseding Ali Daei’s record of 108 international goals.

With one point separating second-placed Portugal and third-placed Serbia, this was a must-win game for the defending champions.

Serbia, on the other hand, drew 2-2 at home to table-toppers Ukraine, who finished the qualifying campaign unbeaten.

But for that, Ukraine had to come from behind twice.

Serbia took a 1-0 inside the opening 10 minutes, Dusan Tadic scoring from the spot. Roman Yarechuk then equalized for Ukraine, 12 minutes before the break.

Artem Beseydin’s stoppage-time broke the Serbian hearts after Aleksandar Mitrovic had restored Serbia’s one-goal lead.

Serbia will now have to eye for a spot in Euro 2020 via play-off rounds.

 

 

 

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