Man of the match: Nani had an amazing night, if quietly so. Though he assisted on Portugal’s second goal, most of his work went unrewarded. Playing on the right flank, he created a number of turnovers, shutting down Simon Poulsen (who had been so good against the Dutch). Nani passing was excellent, deserving a second assist on a missed Ronaldo chance in the 78th minute.
NBC Sports: Late Valera goal gives Portugal 3-2 win over Danes
Packaged for takeaway:
- It was practically a must-win match, and Portugal came through, taking advantage of lax defending on the first two goals and a dazzling finish when they needed a winner.
- The first goal came off a corner. Great delivery from Joao Moutinho found Pepe on a near post run, Daniel Agger having lost his mark amid a crowd of Portuguese runners.
- It was the start of a strong night of Pepe, with the Real Madrid star taking over at the back for long stretches of the second half. The only thing which kept him from Man of the Match was being the defender nearest Nicklas Bendtner on the late, equalizing goal, though it’s debatable whether Pepe should have been expected to prevent it.
- Portugal’s second goal seemed to be a function of lazy Danish defending. They defense had sunk deeper and deeper to position themselves for balls sent in from wide. On Fabio Coentrao’s ball from the left, Denmark was set nine yards from goal and didn’t push after it was headed clear. The clearance was eventually played to Nani on the right, 15 yards from the line, who had no pressure on him when finding Helder Postiga cutting across the box.
- Denmark’s first goal was beautiful. Michael Krahn-Dehli switched the ball right for Lars Jacobsen, who played back to Jakob Poulsen. Poulsen curled a ball from 30 yards out to the far post, where Krahn-Dehli had beat Joao Periera. With Riu Patricio coming to contest a shot, Krahn-Dehli played a header back across the box for Bendtner, who finished for a yard out.
- It was a disappointing goal to concede right before halftime, but Portugal came out in the second having never lost their composure. Denmark dominated possession but created almost no chances, with Portugal looking more likely to score.
- Cristiano Ronaldo was twice given open chances on goal by Nani. The first came when Helder Postiga dummied a long ball from the right, Denmark’s defense failing to account for Ronaldo. Stephan Andersen came out to make a nice save on a shot from 16 yards out. In the 78th minute, Nani gave Ronaldo another chance, but with Andersen going down early, Ronaldo pushed his shot wide.
- When Bendtner equalized, Ronaldo’s misses loomed large. Again, it was a near-perfectly executed goal. Lars Jacobsen had to cross from deep on the right for Bendtner, who had to position himself outside the far post. The shot went just inside the left upright, grazed off Rui Patricio’s hand, and went in.
- It was fitting that a well-executed Portugal goal won the game, though Denmark may ask why, when they were protecting their point, Silvestre Valera was given a second chance to win the game. Fabio Coentrao’s cross was met with a meek left-footed shot from the substitute, but turning on the rebound, Valera blasted an unstoppable shot just inside the right post.
- Coentrao also had a strong Man of the Match shout.
- For Denmark, you have to regret ever giving Portugal control of the match. The first 20 minutes were evenly played, but Denmark was too meek at the back, an attitude that conceded the first two goals. From there, Portugal was allowed to play their more comfortable, defensive approach, and although Denmark would end with 60 percent possession, they couldn’t get three points.
- As a result, Denmark fails to build on their upset of the Netherlands and now need some help to get out of group. Portugal has the tiebreaker, should the teams end up even, though a number of three-way tie scenarios are still in play.
- Portugal, on the other hand, have every reason to be happy with the result. It wasn’t a must-win game (they could have drawn and had a slim chance of surviving), but a win gives them needed confidence going into a final group game against the Netherlands.
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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.
Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.
The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million, and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.
Alexis Sanchez became Chile’s all-time leading goalscorer (38) on Thursday, and La Roja inched ever closer to progression at the 2017 Confederations Cup with a 1-1 draw against Germany.
[ MORE: VAR steps in to help Aussies draw Cameroon, 1-1 ]
Sanchez moved past Marcelo Salas with his 6th-minute opener (above video) to capitalize on a poor turnover and complete a quick one-two atop Germany’s 18-yard box. Arturo Vidal put a foot in to disrupt Germany’s attempt to play out of the back, and the ball fell to Sanchez who quickly played it back to Vidal, who played Sanchez into the box for a left-footed finish inside the near post.
[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news ]
Chile’s lead wouldn’t quite last until halftime, though, as Lars Stindl got on the end of Jonas Hector’s cross in the 41st minute to bring the reigning World Cup champions back to level terms and all but secure their place in the next round.
With the result, Chile and Germany remain tied on top of Group B (4 points) with one game to play. Given the distance between themselves and Australia and Cameron (1 point each) in third and fourth, a draw in their final group games would be more than enough to go through to the semifinals. One-goal defeats would even do the trick.
Kenny Saief has been officially cleared by FIFA to make his one-time switch of international allegiance from Israel to the United States, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Thursday.
Saief, 23, was born in Panama City, Fla., to Druze-Israeli parents and began his youth career with Maccabi Haifa in 2005, at the age of 11. After a handful of first-team appearances for various Israeli clubs between 2010 and 2013, Saief earned a regular place in Ironi Nir Ramat HaSharon’s first team during the 2013-14 season. In the summer of 2014, he moved to Belgian side Gent, where he’s played in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. U.S. men’s national team head coach Bruce Arena included Saief on his 40-man preliminary roster for next month’s 2017 Gold Cup.
[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]
He appeared for Israeli youth national teams at just about every level, but having grown frustrated at the lack of a call-up to the senior team, Saief made it known many months ago he would consider a switch to the USMNT if the omission continued.
Saief figures to serve as something of a utility-man for the USMNT, at least from the start. He’s a left-footed midfielder who’s played extensively on both the left and right wings, and even a bit at left back. It’s the latter that should most intrigued USMNT fans, considering the dearth of options available at the position.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) Mark Geiger, who three years ago became the first American to referee a knockout stage match at the World Cup, is among 17 referees picked for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Americans Jair Marrufo and Armando Villarreal also were announced Thursday for the 12-nation tournament, which runs from July 7-26 in various U.S. cities.
[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news ]
Geiger, who is from New Jersey, was a referee for France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria in the round of 16.
Three each were picked from Mexico (Roberto Garcia, Fernando Guerrero and Cesar Ramos) and Honduras (Melvin Matamoros, Oscar Moncada and Hector Rodriguez).
Two will come from Costa Rica: Henry Bejarano and Ricardo Montero.
Others picked for the tournament are Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Drew Fischer (Canada), Walter Lopez (Guatemala), Yadel Martinez (Cuba), John Pitti (Panama) and Kimbell Ward (St. Kitts and Nevis).