Euro 2024: Bernardo Silva runs the show as Portugal subdue Turkey | Football News - Hindustan Times

Euro 2024: Bernardo Silva runs the show as Portugal subdue Turkey

ByDhiman Sarkar
Jun 28, 2024 11:27 AM IST

Goals from Silva and Bruno Fernandes besides an own goal seal progress from Group F with a second win.

When you are alone and life is making you lonely, search for own goals on the internet. You will see goalkeepers conceding while trying a stepover and at least one where a backpass rolled in because, unknown to the passer, the last man had moved up. After Saturday, when Portugal beat Turkey 3-0, that will become at least two.

Portugal's Bernardo Silva celebrates scoring their first goal.(REUTERS)
Portugal's Bernardo Silva celebrates scoring their first goal.(REUTERS)

The sight of Altay Bayindir and Zeki Celik running desperately towards their goal to stop Samet Akaydin’s backpass from going in would not have been funny only for Turkey supporters. In Dortmund and elsewhere on Saturday. For it meant Turkey were down 0-2 by the 28th minute. Maybe, with time, they will also see the funny side of things. It must have been the noise that meant Akaydin had not heard Bayindir having moved up when the centre-back played a no-look pass.

One of the four changes made by Vincenzo Montella, Bayindir is from Manchester United where Andre Onana, the team’s first-choice keeper, had made a string of major errors. Blame it on his lack of games or what you will, but it was a gift that Portugal did not need en route winning the group and qualifying for the round of 16. It also meant that from showing frustration at a move gone awry, Joao Cancelo would begin celebrating. Between agony and ecstasy lay the slightest shift in hand movement. It was the sixth own goal of Euro 2024.

When Bruno Fernandes made it 3-0 in the 56th, it meant Portugal were on way to winning all four of their matches against Turkey in this competition. The striking thing about the goal was what Ronaldo, and not Fernandes did. The ball from Cancelo took a touch as Ronaldo timed his run to meet it. He duly did and with only Bayindir to beat, teed up. And then squared to Fernandes. It was his seventh assist in European championship. No one has as many.

It meant he would have to wait for his 131st goal in international football. It also meant that contrary to popular belief, Ronaldo puts the team above self. For the first goal scored by Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo flung himself to the ground like Neeraj Chopra does on completing a throw to ensure the Portugal midfielder, and Player-of-the-Match, had a clear look on goal. More proof of belief in the collective. You don’t often expect strikers to do that, not one who scored 44 goals in 45 games for his club in Saudi Arabia. But then, you don’t expect a 39-year-old playing with the desire and hunger of a teenager.

Yes, he wanted the ball, and looked upset when Fernandes blasted over in the 35th minute. When Fernandes did pass in the first minute, Ronaldo’s volley was too weak to challenge Bayindir. There were headers where he would hang in the air like Europe has seen him do for over two decades but they lacked direction. In the 36th minute, Ronaldo tried to bend one that didn’t but the way he brought the ball down and cushioned it for the shot showed how good his skills still are in what is his sixth European championship.

Like against Czech Republic, Ronaldo lasted the full game. He played 2649 minutes in the league for Al-Nassr. Only Sadio Mane played more.

At 41, Pepe didn’t play the full game. In the 82 minutes that he was on the pitch before being replaced by Antonio Silva, who is less than half his age, Pepe put in clean challenges and repelled everything Turkey had to offer from corner-kicks. The challenge on Orkun Kökcü in the 21st minute showed why Portugal have conceded only twice in qualifying for this competition. Pepe is in his fifth European championship. Only Luka Modric has played as many. Only Ronaldo has played more.

Turkey probed through the right initially. Yunis Akgun caused a few problems for Portugal but the closest they came was in the sixth minute when Celik found Kerem Akturkoglu. But with Cancelo on him, Akturkoglu could not get a proper connection and Ruben Dias cleared. Kökcü tested Diogo Costa near half-time as did Yusuf Yazici after the interval. Trailing 0-3, Turkey introduced teen prodigy Arda Guler who didn’t start because he was not 100% fit but this time there were no glorious strikes from range.

On three points from two games, Turkey are second in group F and play Czech Republic in the final group game with both having a chance to progress. Portugal don’t need to worry about that. Not something Georgia would mind given that a win can help them stay alive in the competition. Prior to the start of this competition, Jose Mourinho had said even Portugal’s second team would be favourites. It is evident why.

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