Three Manchester United players started for Portugal as they were held to a 0-0 draw away at Ireland last night.
The stalemate has not changed too much for Portugal in their group. They need a draw or a win at home to Serbia in the final game to finish in first place – the same situation as had they won against Ireland.
Cristiano Ronaldo did not get much service against Ireland although came close to scoring with two second half chances. He had paid tribute after the game to an ‘always difficult’ Ireland side to face.
Bruno Fernandes had a more difficult night. He was substituted on 74 minutes having had one effort on goal and creating just one chance.
Diogo Dalot was filling in at left-back and had a more successful night as he kept a clean sheet, a true rarity for a Manchester United defender this season.
Both Dalot and Fernandes sent messages after the draw, reflecting on a tough game and the decisive battle with Serbia which lies ahead on Sunday.
Portugal will be relying on Fernandes and Ronaldo in Sunday’s group decider.
It’s uncertain whether Dalot will start despite his solid performance against Ireland.
A Portugal defeat would leave them facing a two-game play-off to make the World Cup against another group runner-up.
The 2022 World Cup could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last chance to win the tournament, so falling at the qualification stage would be unthinkable.
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