Luxembourg 1-2 Portugal: Comeback Helps Portugal Avoid Slow Start of the Past
When the ball flew off of Daniel Da Mota Alves's foot, avoided Rui Patricio's outstretched hand and found the top corner of the Portuguese net, one thought ran through every Portuguese fan's mind: "Here we go again."
Over the past two decades, the Portuguese national team have established themselves as a more than formidable international side. Just looking at the past eight years, A Selecção have had promising results in every major tournament, as they have had a final appearance in the Euro and a fourth place finish in the World Cup.
However, one thing that has certainly eluded Portugal is the essence of the qualifying campaign.
In each of the past three major tournaments the team have struggled to find their way into the final competition, not once finishing top of their group and twice even needing a playoff. Looking back on each of those groups, the results that really hurt Portugal were always early in their campaigns.
Hence, exasperated recognition spread through fans of Portugal as they watched their team start to underachieve in a qualifying match.
Sure, it was a wonder-striker from the Luxembourg striker of Portuguese origin, but it was yet another early goal that should just not have been.
What did A Selecção do from there? Well, Cristiano Ronaldo scored the equalizer after the Luxembourg defense seemed to actually stop for what they thought was an uncalled foul and a beautiful ball from Joao Moutinho allowed Helder Postiga to nab the winner.
So what does this mean for Portugal?
The fact that they got a win is of course huge, but it is especially so given the importance of the match. Portugal's biggest competition in the group, Russia, had already pulled off an impressive 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland; meanwhile, Luxembourg are arguably the worst of the group.
Thus, questions still surround this squad as they look to dazzle their way into Brazil.
Is Portugal poised to dominate their group? Or is their victory more a factor of their opponent's weakness and merely covering up the real problems?
More will become clear come Tuesday, when Portugal takes on an Azerbaijan side that had a surprise draw with Israel today.
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