Winner (0 – 1) on the pitch of Slovakia, Portugal has its fifth success in these Euro 2024 qualifiers and is getting a little closer to qualification.
Portugal’s painful victory. On the pitch in Slovakia, Roberto Martínez’s players experienced a far more complex evening than their first four meetings in this Group J. In this collective meltdown, Bruno Fernandes still managed to make a very clean copy. Celebrating his 29th birthday, the Manchester United midfielder scored the only goal of the match following a run and then a well-crossed shot.
While he had systematically opted for a 3–4–3 since taking over, Roberto Martínez this time replaced his preferred system with a more traditional 4–3–3. The “back to basics” benefited holders Vitinha along with Bruno Fernandes and Joao Palinha. However, the Paris midfielder was never really at his best and struggled to get clear clearances to the ball, whether through passing or dribbling.
Like the first half, in the second half too, Portugal ran more after the ball than after the ball. Unable to overcome the aggressiveness of the Slovaks, the Lusitanians had great difficulty building up in their own half and would be able to thank their opponents for often causing delays in the final metres. The win by the narrowest of margins leaves Portugal in first place in their group, 5 points behind their evening opponent, and moving a little closer to Euro 2024.