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In the semi-final of the qualifying play-offs for the World Cup, Portugal had to work to overcome Turkey on Thursday in Path C (3-1). The Portuguese will play the final against North Macedonia, which for its part managed the feat of beating Italy (1-0). The final will take place on March 29 in Porto.
The path to a sixth consecutive World Cup final phase has not closed for Portugal. In Porto, captain Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates did not fail against Turkey, their opponent in the semi-finals of the play-offs for the next World Cup in Qatar. The Portuguese got their ticket to the play-off final, not without having had a few cold sweats.
At the Dragon Stadium, Fernando Santos’ men started off on their feet by settling in the Turkish camp. And logically, they ended up finding the opening: Bernardo Silva hit the post on a shot, but Otavio followed the action well and deceived Ugurcan Cakir, the opposing goalkeeper (15and).
Stung, Turkey reacted well behind but without much success in its few offensives. On the contrary, before the break, the Portuguese Seleçao made the break with a powerful header signed Diogo Jota, well served by Otavio (42and).
Burak Yilmaz misses his penalty
With this score of 2-0 and mastery of the leather (60% possession of the ball), Portugal thought they were going through a serene second period. It was so until the hour mark and the reduction of the score by Burak Yilmaz (65and). Reinvigorated, the Turks threw their forces into battle and thought they would turn the tide in the final minutes.
In the penalty area, Enes Ünal was mowed down by José Fonte in the 81and minute. The referee reviewed the footage and awarded Turkey a penalty. But Burak Yilmaz missed and sent his shot straight into the stands, much to the relief of the Portuguese fans. And finally, in added time, Matheus Nunes went to score the goal of deliverance (90and+4).
On March 29, Portugal will play the play-off final well. They will face North Macedonia, who have achieved the feat of beating Italy, reigning European champions on Thursday, in Palermo (1-0). The Squadra Azzurra will miss the World Cup for the second time in a row.