Cristiano Ronaldo caused much amusement before Portugal's World Cup opener against the Ivory Coast by explaining his lack of goals for Portugal would be like getting ketchup out of a bottle. Nothing for ages then suddenly a load all at once, in a Portuguese variation of the "it's like waiting for a London bus" theme.
Today, although Ronaldo only bagged one goal, collectively the ketchup truly arrived for Portugal in spectacular fashion, as the Selecção demolished North Korea 7-0.
Portugal have threatened to dismantle teams in such fashion for some time. The team's stuttering qualification campaign was ironically precipitated by just such a performance and one of the most vibrant attacking displays for many a year - the 3-2 home defeat against Denmark.
Anyone who witnessed that astonishing game in Lisbon will recall how Carlos Queiroz, recently appointed the new Portugal coach after Scolari left following Euro 2008, orchestrated a superb exhibition of all-out offensive football. Having got ahead, time after time Portugal ripped Denmark's defence to ribbons, only to miss chance after chance - incredibly five one-on-ones were spurned - and ultimately throw away the points in a crazy final 3 minutes.
Even in the return match in Copenhagen, Portugal again dominated at will, amassing a remarkable 35 attempts at goal. Yet they needed a Liedson header 5 minutes from time to save what proved to be a crucial point.
Today, against North Korea, they added the ingredient that has been so patently missing over the past two years - a clinical streak in front of goal. In the wake of the Cape Town masterclass the team has rightly been showered with plaudits for some breathtaking movement, slick passing and devastating finishing, but the factor that will have most pleased Carlos Queiroz today will be the high percentage of goals scored in relation to chances created.
Should Portugal retain this killer instinct in front of goal for the next three weeks they could yet cause a big surprise.
At the other end of the pitch the defence continues to show incredible consistency. Portugal have now conceded the grand total of 3 goals in their last 17 matches, and in competitive play goalkeeper Eduardo has kept the ball out of the net for seven straight games.
Bring on Brazil!
Portugal player ratings for the North Korea masterclass
||Post your comment