Offshore drilling, Euro 2012: Portugal 3, Denmark 2

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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.

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia