Bruno Fernandes sends Portugal to FIFA World Cup

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Bruno Fernandes sends Portugal to FIFA World Cup

Bruno Fernandes scored a brace to help Portugal beat North Macedonia 2-0 in their FIFA World Cup playoff final and qualify for Qatar.

Having shocked Italy in the semifinals, North Macedonia once again put up a strong fight against a superior side away from home. The pressure of the occasion eventually took a toll on the 62nd ranked team in the world, as individual errors cost them a place in the world cup for the first time in their history.

Roared on by 50,000 fans at a sold-out Dragao Stadium in Porto, Portugal dominated the game from the start but struggled to break down the strong North Macedonian defense, managing only three shots on target despite having almost 70% possession.

North Macedonia stuck to the strategy which brought them to the door of history, sitting back and hoping to score from a counterattack.

Portugal, however, did what Italy failed to do in the previous game and took the lead after 22 minutes when Fernandes intercepted a poor pass in midfield and exchanged passes with Ronaldo before producing a fine finish into the corner.

Portugal kept possession of the ball from that moment on and doubled their lead in the second half after 65 minutes when Bruno Fernandes got on the end of a fine counterattack to convert from close range. Neither team could add to the scoreline afterward.

Portugal, who won the 2016 European Championship in France, qualified for a sixth straight World Cup finals and have not missed a major international competition in the last 20 years.

They were pushed into the playoffs after finishing second in Group A which had left them needing to win two consecutive elimination games to qualify where they beat Turkey and now North Macedonia to book a spot in Qatar.

 

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